RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -Thad Lewis threw for career-highs of 459 yards and five touchdowns in a dazzling one-man show to help Duke beat North Carolina State 49-28 on Saturday.
Lewis also ran for a score for the Blue Devils (3-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who snapped an 11-game losing streak to their instate rival and earned their first road league win in almost six years. Donovan Varner added 154 yards receiving while Conner Vernon had 10 catches and was one of five different players to catch a TD pass from Lewis.
But on this day, everything started with Lewis, a senior quarterback who has until now almost always seen his big passing days go for naught.
He picked apart the Wolfpack’s defense, helping Duke roll to 502 total yards and convert 13 of 19 third downs to dominate the game in front of a stunned home crowd for the Wolfpack (3-3, 0-2).
Lewis was sharp from the beginning, guiding the Blue Devils to touchdowns on their first three drives. And even though the Blue Devils had a few of those only-can-happen-to-Duke mistakes that helped the Wolfpack hang around, Lewis just wouldn’t let the Blue Devils falter.
Duke earned its first ACC road win since beating North Carolina to close the 2003 regular season, ending a 20-game losing streak.
With the game tied at 28 midway through the third quarter, Lewis directed a 10-play drive that ended with his 8-yard scoring pass to Austin Kelly with 3:41 left. Then the Blue Devils caught a huge break when a Blue Devil punt bounced off blocker Justin Byers and DUKE recovered at N.C. State’s 11-yard line.
Three plays later, Lewis connected with Vernon for a 5-yard touchdown that pushed the lead to 42-28 with 11:02 left. And when the Blue Devils’ defense – which hung in after a rough start against N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson – stuffed Toney Baker on a fourth-and-1 with 6:05 left, the Blue Devils could feel that this game would be different from all those other league losses.
On the other sideline, things only got worse for the Wolfpack, which played the final 5 minutes or so in front of a virtually empty Carter-Finley Stadium.
The low point – aside from a miserable defensive performance – came when the Wolfpack botched another punt return in the final minutes in the same fashion, this time with the ball bouncing off the leg of blocker Owen Spencer and rolling into the end zone, where Duke recovered for another touchdown with 3:07 left.
Wilson ran and threw for a touchdown for N.C. State, which never led.
Baker ran for 73 yards and a score and T.J. Graham added a 93-yard kickoff return for a score for the Wolfpack.