DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Khalil Herbert ran for 208 yards and two touchdowns, including a 60-yard score with 2:20 left, to help shorthanded Virginia Tech hold off Duke for a 38-31 win on Saturday.
The Kansas graduate transfer’s huge day included an 83-yard kickoff return that set up a short third-quarter scoring drive for the Hokies (2-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference). Herbert’s other score was a 23-yard sprint around the left side to the end zone for a 31-21 lead with 9:58 left.
Braxton Burmeister also scored on two keepers for Virginia Tech, which was down 21 players and two full-time coaches due to a combination of coronavirus and injury issues. The Hokies’ defense also came up big by forcing a three-and-out after Burmeister lost a fumble to give Duke a chance for the lead with 4½ minutes left.
Herbert took care of the rest, breaking loose around the left side again for the 60-yarder for a 38-28 lead while cracking the 200-yard mark to essentially seal this one.
Deon Jackson scored twice on the ground for the Blue Devils (0-4, 0-4), including when he shot up the middle for a 10-yard score that gave Duke a 14-10 lead with 11:27 left in the third.
But the Blue Devils didn’t hold that lead long. Herbert answered with his huge kickoff return -- it was originally ruled a touchdown before a replay review confirmed he stepped on the sideline -- that set up a short go-ahead score from Burmeister.
Chase Brice threw for 271 yards and a touchdown for Duke, which is off to its worst start in 14 years.
Virginia Tech: The Hokes have won twice despite some tricky circumstances. They had a long wait for their postponed opening game then had to beat North Carolina State with 23 players and two full-time coaches unavailable. That number dipped slightly this time, but their strong ground game did not. The Hokies ran for 314 yards last week then surpassed that total with 324 more against the Blue Devils.
Duke: The Blue Devils entered this one with their worst start since a winless 2006 season before coach David Cutcliffe’s arrival, which transformed the program into a regular bowl participant after years of struggle. But things had been much tougher this year, particularly with the Blue Devils turning the ball over at an alarming rate. Duke entered with 14 turnovers, the most of any Bowl Subdivision team. This time, the Blue Devils had just one — and not coincidentally had their best scoring output of the season — but it wasn’t quite enough to pull this one out.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies visit No. 12 North Carolina next Saturday.
Duke: The Blue Devils visit Syracuse next Saturday.
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