Durham, NC (Sports Network) - Conner Vernon caught 10 passes for 180 yards as the Duke Blue Devils routed the FIU Panthers 46-26 in the season opener at Wallace Wade Stadium.
With his performance Vernon became the all-time leader in career receptions with 208 at Duke (1-0). Jamison Crowder also had a good game catching the football grabbing six passes for 102 yards including a touchdown. Crowder and Vernon combined for 16 of the teams 23 receptions. Sean Renfree threw for 290 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 21-of-30 passing as well for the Blue Devils. Josh Snead led the way on the ground with 47 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.
Jake Medlock threw for 348 yards while completing 27-of-45 passes including a pair of touchdown strikes for FIU (0-1). Kedrick Rhodes had a very impressive night for the Panthers compiling 245 total yards while recording a touchdown rushing and receiving. Rhodes is coming off a season in which he set the school record for rushing yards in a season (1,149).
Just two plays into the game, FIU was already ahead 7-0 after a 67-yard touchdown pass from Medlock to Rhodes. It would take Duke just three minutes to respond capping off a 10-play, 46-yard drive with a two-yard rushing touchdown by Brandon Connette.
FIU's Jack Griffin missed a 45-yard field goal to set up a short field for Duke's next possession. The Blue Devils took full advantage when Connette completed an eight-yard touchdown pass to David Reeves just four seconds into the second quarter. The ensuing two-point conversion attempt failed putting the Blue Devils' lead at 13-7.
The Blue Devils struck again less than two minutes later capping off a three- play 77-yard drive with a 19-yard rushing touchdown from Snead. The drive was highlighted by a 49-yard reception from Vernon. After the extra point Duke led 20-7.
Darian Mallary helped FIU cut into Duke's lead with a 10-yard rush for a touchdown with 5:05 left in the first half bringing the Panthers to within six (20-14).
Duke didn't wait long to answer with Renfree hooking up with Jamison Crowder for a 60-yard touchdown pass that extended Duke's advantage to 27-14. That lead continued to grow thanks to strong special teams play. First Martin knocked in a 34-yard field goal. Then a little over two minutes later Duke blocked a 30-yard field goal attempt by Griffin which Ross Cockrell returned for a touchdown as time expired in the half.
Duke led 37-14 at the break after outscoring FIU 30-7 in the second quarter.
Just over four minutes into the third quarter Vernon scored again, this time on a 28-yard reception from Renfree on fourth down, as Duke took a 44-14 lead.
FIU finally ended Duke's scoring run with a one-yard touchdown plunge from Rhodes with 1:19 left in regulation. The Panthers then attempted a two-point conversion but Medlock was intercepted by Kyler Brown who returned it 98 yards to the end zone making the score 46-20.
The Panthers then recovered an onside kick on the ensuing kickoff After recovering an onside kick, FIU drove 50 yards in 50 seconds highlighted by a 31-yard touchdown pass from Medlock to Fred Porter. The score moved to 46-26 as the Panthers failed to convert a two-point conversion attempt yet again.
FIU lost despite collecting 29 first downs to just 16 by Duke and out-gaining the Blue Devils 513-420 in total yards of offense.Game Notes