DURHAM — Duke overcame any emotional letdown from its season-opening upset of Clemson and the challenge of getting only a few days to prepare for its next game.
Jordan Waters ran for a career-high 112 yards to go with two scores, helping the 21st-ranked Blue Devils beat Lafayette 42-7 on Saturday night.
“When you come off of a short week like that and you’ve got to prepare, you’ve just got to go out there and find a way to get a result,” second-year coach Mike Elko said.
Duke did that, showing a balanced offense with 261 yards rushing and 254 through the air for 515 total against a Championship Subdivision foe.
Waters scored on a 5-yard run early in the second period and added a 16-yard run shortly before halftime that surpassed his previous career-best rushing total. That staked the Blue Devils (2-0) to a 21-7 halftime lead, then he cracked the 100-yard mark on his first touch of the third quarter amid a heavy downpour that followed the teams out of the break.
Duke was playing five days after the 28-7 win against the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference favorite and then-No. 9 Tigers. That game ended with fans charging to midfield to celebrate the program’s first win against a top-10 opponent in 34 years, then had the Blue Devils entering the AP Top 25 the next afternoon for the first time in five years.
The ground game led the way behind Waters and Jaquez Moore, who ran for 72 yards with a 39-yard score early in the third quarter.
“We had to focus mentally more than physically,” Waters said, adding: “It was different, but we managed it.”
Dean DeNobile threw for a 12-yard touchdown to Chris Carasia for the Leopards (1-1). That came after Lafayette marched 75 yards on 13 plays, which included Duke jumping offsides on a field-goal attempt to extend that drive.
“I think our effort was there,” Lafayette coach John Troxell said. “I think the kids tried to play physical. We had a lot of freshmen out there and they came and competed really hard. I’m proud of our effort. Obviously the result isn’t what you want.”
The Blue Devils host Northwestern on Saturday.