Blue Devils crush crosstown rivals, 55-0

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Once Thomas Sirk found a groove, Duke’s offense didn’t stop. The defense never let North Carolina Central get started.

Sirk threw for three touchdowns and ran for another, and Duke routed the crosstown Eagles of the FCS 55-0 on Saturday night.

Sirk was 15 of 22 for a career-best 315 yards with scoring passes of 24 yards to Shaq Powell, 43 yards to Max McCaffrey and 89 yards to Shaun Wilson.

Sirk completed 14 of his final 18 attempts, and his last two completions went for TDs to McCaffrey and Wilson.

“I love to have him on our team,” McCaffrey said of Sirk. “He can make big plays when there’s not necessarily somebody open.”

Wilson finished with 102 yards receiving, and added 71 yards rushing with a 1-yard score.

Sirk rushed for 86 yards with a 6-yard score. Ross Martin kicked field goals of 24 and 38 yards, and backups Parker Boehme and Zach Boden added late touchdown runs for Duke.

“It’s definitely a confidence-builder to come out and execute on offense,” Sirk said.

The Blue Devils (2-0) scored on six straight possessions and finished with 655 total yards — the most ever allowed by an N.C. Central team at any level — to 186 for the Eagles, who are in their fifth season as a full Division I member.

“You look at the effort that we gave, and the execution just has to improve,” second-year Central coach Jerry Mack said. “We can improve those things.”

Malcolm Bell was 12 of 24 for 127 yards for the Eagles (1-1), who got Duke’s attention by routing Division II St. Augustine’s 72-0 last week.

They were down by 34 before they crossed midfield for the first time and finished with 54 yards rushing.

“You can’t ask for much more than no points,” defensive end Kyler Brown said.

The Blue Devils christened their remodeled Wallace Wade Stadium with a blowout. Last week, Duke went to Tulane, held the Green Wave to 271 total yards and kept them out of the red zone in a season-opening 37-7 romp.

Duke faced even less resistance in this one while improving to 4-0 in the Bull CityGridiron Classic series that started in 2009. The Blue Devils won the previous three matchups by a combined 148-31.

They turned this one into a laugher by scoring on their final three possessions of the first half and their first three of the second.

Sirk put Duke up by two touchdowns when he scored on a draw with 9:15 left before the break. Martin’s shorter field goal came after Sirk found Johnell Barnes for 44 yards on a third-and-12.

Another long catch-and-run — a 59-yarder from Sirk to freshman T.J. Rahming — set up Wilson’s short scoring run that made it 24-0 with 55 seconds left.

Sirk then found McCaffrey behind the Central defense for another score on Duke’s first offensive series of the second half. Wilson took a swing pass from Sirk and raced down the left sideline on his way to the third-longest pass completion in school history.

“A huge point for us was to pressure the perimeter,” Sirk said.