EVANSTON, Ill. — Duke quarterback Daniel Jones threw for three touchdowns before getting knocked out of the game with an injured clavicle in the Blue Devils’ 21-7 win at Northwestern on Saturday. Jones was driven into the ground on a blindside hit by the Wildcats’ Joe Gaziano at the end of the third quarter.
Coach David Cutcliffe said it “doesn’t look great” and was bracing for his quarterback to miss a big chunk of time. He added Jones would be examined when the team returned home.
Cutcliffe doesn’t expect star cornerback Mark Gilbert to return anytime soon, either, after he exited with an injury to the left hip area in the second quarter.
Those were two big losses on a day when the Blue Devils (2-0) beat the Wildcats (1-1) again after pounding them at home last year.
Jones completed 16 of 22 passes for 192 yards — and had all three of his touchdowns in the second quarter — in another big game against Northwestern. He accounted for 413 total yards and four touchdowns in last year’s 41-17 romp. Redshirt junior Quentin Harris played the fourth quarter.
“He was playing lights out,” Cutcliffe said. “He’s prepared hard. And that preparation, you can visibly see it. Anybody can see it. A lot of confidence. He’s not through, so we’ll be cranking it up moving forward.”
Jonathan Lloyd had 94 yards receiving, including a 52-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter. Davis Koppenhaver had a one-handed TD grab late in the first half, and the Blue Devils won for the 21st time in 24 games against non-Atlantic Coast Conference opponents.
Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson was 22 of 38 for 198 yards and an interception in his second game back from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He again shared time with TJ Green, who went 9 for 18 for 84 yards and an interception.
Thorson said he was feeling good after taking some hits to the lower body. But the medical staff is determining his playing time.
“I wish I had control over that,” Thorson said. “I’m just told whether or not (Thorson) is in or (Thorson) is out.”
Jeremy Larkin ran for 121 yards and a touchdown after going for a career-high 143 in the opener against Purdue. Flynn Nagel had 12 catches for 133 yards — both personal bests. But the Wildcats lost for the first time since Penn State beat them last Oct. 7.
Duke: The Blue Devils could be in trouble if they have to get by without Jones and Gilbert.
Northwestern: The Wildcats clearly need a healthier Thorson if they’re going to make a run in the Big Ten. Larkin, meanwhile, showed again he’s ready to become the workhorse running back with career rushing leader Justin Jackson in the NFL.
“It’s always good to get wins against Power Five schools and great competition. But we made a lot of mistakes, things that need to be fixed. We need to learn as much from a win as we do from a loss. This is a great tape to watch and get better and learn from.” — Lloyd on the victory.
Jones threw for 159 yards and three touchdowns in the first half to help the Blue Devils grab a 21-7 lead.
Northwestern’s lone points came on the game’s opening drive, when Larkin broke off a 40-yard run to the 4 and carried it in from the 2. But three TD passes by Jones in the second quarter gave Duke a 14-point lead.
He connected with T.J. Rahming on a 9-yarder just over a minute in and the Blue Devils scored on back-to-back possessions to go up 21-7.
Marquis Waters intercepted Thorson in double coverage, leading to the Wildcats’ Cameron Green getting ejected for a helmet-to-helmet hit on him. Jones connected with Lloyd deep down the middle on the next play for a 52-yard touchdown to put Duke on top. An open Koppenhaver made it a 14-point game with 2:18 left in the half when he reached up with his right hand and hauled in a 9-yard touchdown in the back of the end zone.
Northwestern had a first down at the Duke 9 early in the third. But the drive stalled, with Thorson getting sacked on fourth down at the 4.
Duke: Visits Baylor on Sept. 15.
Northwestern: Hosts Akron on Sept. 15.