DETROIT — With temperatures only in the single digits outside, it was the perfect setting for some college football indoors. Duke won the 2017 Quick Lane Bowl over Northern Illinois, 36-14 inside Detroit’s Ford Field. A total of 20,211 fans were inside to watch the game on Tuesday evening.
Duke quarterback Daniel Jones completed 338 yards of offense. The Blue Devils took the early 14-0 lead with two touchdowns and field goals in the first quarter. Then, Northern Illinois battled back to the tie the game. However, it was all Duke in the second half. They scored 22 unanswered points to win the game.
“First, I would say congratulations to our seniors,” said David Cutliffe, Duke’s head football coach. “It’s a great victory for them to go out on. That’s what they prepared for their entire careers…number one to be in a bowl game and number two to win a bowl game. I would congratulate them and their teammates to come back from where we were. We were 4-6 a little over a month ago. Things had gone south. It was about being a great teammate. There was no star to take over. They won three games in a row over a really good Northern Illinois team.”
In the first quarter, Daniel Jones made a 1-yard run to score a touchdown for Duke at 6:00. William Holmquist kicked the ball for the extra point. The game was 7-0 Duke. Later in the first, Shaun Wilson made a 1-yard run to score again. Holmquist kicked the ball once again for the extra point. That gave Duke a 14-0 lead over NIU.
“Pulling ourselves outta the grave to get to the point where we’re at now…We just won the Quick Lane Bowl,” said Duke linebacker Joe Giles-Harris. “It’s a great feeling. You win three in a row and get here. We just kept our eyes on the future and we knew it was in our hands.”
There was lots of scoring in the second quarter. Tre Harbison made a 25-yard carry to score a touchdown for Northern Illinois. Then, Christian Hagan kicked for the extra point. Duke leads 14-7 at 14:21 remaining in the 2nd. NIU ties the game with a second touchdown, a 67-yard carry by Jauan Wesley. Hagan kicked once again for the extra point. The game was tied 14-14 at 12:22.
T.J. Rahming scored for Duke following a 33 yard-pass from Daniel Jones. The extra point was no good. Duke leads 20-7 with 6:09 remaining in 2nd. Later, Shaun Wilson made a touchdown after an 11-yard pass from Daniel Jones; The two-point conversion was no good. Duke led by 26-14 at the end of the second.
“We battled back from an early 14-0 hole and tied it up certainly had some momentum and couldn’t capitalize on that to get a lead,” said Rod Carey, NIU’s head football coach. “From there, I give Duke a lot of credit, they ran the ball, converted on third down, threw the ball when they had to, the quarterback ran it as well to pick up some key first downs and some big plays. I certainly feel like if we had executed we would have a chance for a different outcome.”
In the third quarter, Brittain Brown made a 7-yard run for another Duke touchdown. William Holmquist kicked the ball for the extra point, Duke led by 33-14.
“There’s a lot of opportunities that we left out there that I missed a throw or a dropped ball,” said NIU quarterback Marcus Childers. “It’s just stuff that we have to work on or get better at. It’s just me being more consistent and our guys being more consistent as well. I threw the ball to Spencer and he dropped it. We really needed it. Just got to get better at it.”
The fourth quarter was relatively quiet. William Holmquist kicked a 24-yard field goal for three extra points making the final score Duke 36-14. That was pretty much it until the clock ran out.
Both teams had an opportunity to explore the Motor City before the big game. They toured the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation and played “fowling” which uses footballs to knock down bowling pins in nearby Hamtramck.
Once again, Duke beat NIU by a final score of 36-14 in the Quick Lane Bowl.