Leonard, defense spark Duke to 30-0 rout of Temple in opener
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Riley Leonard threw for two touchdowns and completed his first 15 passes of the season, boosting Duke to a 30-0 victory over Temple as coach Mike Elko won in his debut Friday night.
Duke recorded its first shutout of a Football Bowl Subdivision team since 1989 at North Carolina.
“To pitch a shutout in the opener was pretty special,” said Elko, who has been a defensive coordinator at several other schools.
Leonard, a sophomore, completed 24 of 30 passes for 328 yards. He also was the top rusher in the game with 64 yards on 11 carries.
“We had the perfect scheme drawn up every single play,” Leonard said. “I had all the time in the world.”
Elko was in his first game as a head coach after replacing David Cutcliffe, who spent 14 seasons in charge of the Blue Devils. Duke is coming off three consecutive losing seasons with a combined 10-25 record during that stretch.
Naturally, the Blue Devils had concerns entering the season.
“The unknown was a little bit there before we started the game,” Leonard said. “… We worked that hard and it really paid off.”
It was a disappointing opening game for first-year Temple coach Stan Drayton, who had been the associate head coach at Texas.
Temple was held to 179 yards of total offense, with just 50 in the first half compared to Duke’s 337 by halftime.
“Simply put, we have a lot of work to do,” Drayton said. “We’ll go back to the drawing board and find a way to keep it simple so they can cut it loose and execute the proper way.”
Duke scored five plays into the game on Jaylen Coleman’s 1-yard run. Moore threw touchdown passes of 4 yards to Jordan Moore and 39 yards to Sahmir Hagans in the first half.
“Really happy with the way we started,” Elko said.
Moore was the game’s second-leading receiver with 77 yards on six catches. He competed with Leonard for the starting quarterback role in the preseason and is listed as the backup quarterback.
Duke kicker Charlie Ham was 3 for 6 on field goals, connecting from 29, 37 and 38 yards.
Temple’s D’Wan Mathis was 11-for-21 passing for 83 yards.
Both teams were coming off 3-9 seasons.
Leonard’s game-opening streak was one completion shy of the school record for consecutive completions at any time during a game. That record of 16 is shared by D. Bryant (2000 at North Carolina State) and Sean Renfree (2010 at Navy).
Leonard seemed comfortable right away.
“A lot of guys got open, made plays,” Elko said. “He kept throwing it to the guy that was open.”
Elko, who was Texas A&M’s defensive coordinator the past four years after similar roles at Hofstra, Bowling Green, Wake Forest and Notre Dame, said his thoughts about this being his first game as a head coach were restricted to the pregame. Once the headsets went on, it was all about football.
“All day there were a lot of emotions,” he said. “Great start and now let’s go do it again.”
Temple: The Owls couldn’t get untracked offensively and there were few signs that they were capable of sustaining drives. There were holes defensively, though Temple had encouraging moments by forcing Duke to attempt six field goals.
Duke: The Blue Devils had to like what they saw from Leonard, who didn’t emerge as the starter until preseason workouts. He connected on passes with eight different teammates. After giving up 45 or more points in its last six games of 2021, the defense had a banner night.
Temple: The Owls host Lafayette on Sept. 10.
Duke: The Blue Devils play at Northwestern on Sept. 10.
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