DURHAM — Behind a dominant rushing attack led by Shaun Wilson, Duke earned a 34-20 win over Baylor on Saturday in Durham.
In a game that featured six turnovers and 16 penalties, the ground game of the Blue Devils (3-0) stood out as one of the few highlights against the winless Bears (0-3).
Wilson finished with 176 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns, scoring on runs of 50 and 65 yards to lead a Duke offense that racked up 439 yards, including 246 rushing yards.
“Every time we get Shaun healthy, it kind of shows,” said Duke coach David Cutcliffe, who earned his 99th career victory with the win. “. … Shaun Wilson may have played as well as a back’s played for us since we’ve been here.”
White said he felt the running game is what got the offense started when the Bears took an early lead.
“We blocked well (against Baylor) and that’s what opened up things for me,” he said.
The Blue Devils forced four turnovers, scoring on a 22-yard interception return by Ben Humphreys in the fourth quarter to seal the victory, earning their first 3-0 mark for the first time since 2014.
“It was a hard-fought victory,” Cutcliffe said. “As I told them in the locker room, this game will make us better. But it can be even more useful if we can take it in practice and correct the things we see.”
Duke will travel to rival North Carolina next Saturday for its ACC opener.
Redshirt freshman running back Brittain Brown accounted for 157 yards, hauling four catches for 71 yards and rushing for 86 yards and a touchdown. Austin Parker kicked two field goals, including a career-long 45-yarder.
The Bears seemed determined not to let quarterback Daniel Jones beat them. Jones was 20 of 35 for 184 yards but was sacked five times and was held without a touchdown for the first time this season.
“They did so many different things we hadn’t seen, defensively,” Cutcliffe said. “I thought that was difficult for Daniel and just in general, I don’t know if I’ve seen as many people show as many fronts as they showed in one ball game.”
Jeremy McDuffie joined Joe Giles-Harris and Humphreys in registering interceptions, with Giles-Harris also logging a team-high 12 tackles in the win.
Duke held Baylor to 1 of 12 on third downs, and to just 57 yards rushing on 27 carries.
“Coach (Jim) Knowles always says to get it to third down and we’ll make something happen,” Humphreys said. “That’s stops on third down, defensive backs covering their guys, up-front men making plays. … it’s all in the philosophy. Coach Knowles is great at what he does.”
The Blue Devils scored on a pair or rushing touchdowns to take a 14-7 lead into the break. Brown had a grown-man run for Duke, going 34 yards for the touchdown, trucking a pair of defenders and breaking two more tackles on his way to the end zone to give the Blue Devils a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.
Baylor forced a turnover on Duke’s opening possession and scored on 44-yard pass from Zach Smith to Denzel Mims to give the Bears an early 7-0 advantage, but the Blue Devils answered on the following drive with a 50-yard touchdown run by Wilson.
Rodd Baxley can be reached at 910-416-5182. Follow him on Twitter @RoddBaxley.