Blacksburg, VA (SportsNetwork.com) - An opportunistic defensive effort and two long field goals from Ross Martin helped Duke to its first road win over a ranked opponent in 42 years, a 13-10 shocker over No. 16 Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium.
Despite being outgained by a 387-198 margin in total yards, the Blue Devils prevailed by intercepting Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas four times and getting clutch kicks of 51 and 53 yards out of Martin. Duke (6-2, 2-2 ACC), which came in 0-7 lifetime in Blacksburg, knocked off a Top 25 foe on the road for the first time since a 9-7 decision at Stanford on Oct. 2, 1971.
The Blue Devils also notched their first victory over the Hokies (6-2, 3-1) since 1981 and became bowl eligible for a second straight year for the first time in school history.
"It is a historical victory and they should be proud of that," Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said of his players. "It is a distinct step in the right direction, and it is a big step."
Duke signal-caller Anthony Boone also threw four picks -- three to VT freshman Kendall Fuller -- while completing just 7-of-25 attempts for 107 yards, but delivered a key 9-yard touchdown run that gave Duke a 13-0 third-quarter lead it held onto.
Thomas rushed for 101 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries and added 214 yards on 21-of-38 passing in the loss, Virginia Tech's first since a season-opening 35-10 setback to No. 1 Alabama in Atlanta.
"Obviously, it's frustrating," Thomas said afterward. "We did a lot on offense that was good."
Martin was the star of a first half marred by sloppy play from both offenses and a combined five interceptions thrown by the two participating quarterbacks, booting a pair of challenging field goals to send Duke into the break owning a slim 6-0 edge.
Thomas' first interception was returned 24 yards by Garett Patterson to the Hokies' 24 late in the opening quarter. However, Fuller picked off Boone for the second time in the game three plays later to thwart Duke's scoring chance.
The Blue Devils were given good field position again early in the second quarter, this time the result of a Hokies' three-and-out, and a 19-yard run by Jela Duncan put Duke in position for Martin's 51-yard kick that broke the scoreless deadlock.
Virginia Tech responded with a lengthy 16-play drive that nearly ended in a go-ahead 2-yard touchdown pass from Thomas to D.J. Coles, but the score was waved off for an illegal motion penalty. Thomas then fired into traffic on the subsequent snap and was intercepted in the end zone by Ross Cockrell.
Boone threw another pick deep in VT territory late in the first half to prevent Duke from extending the lead, but Hokies kicker Cody Journell hit the upright on a 45-yard attempt after the change in possession to keep it a 3-0 game.
Getting the ball back with under a minute left, Boone strung together three straight completions to place the Blue Devils in range for Martin's 53-yard try, which the 2012 Lou Groza Award semifinalist split through the uprights on the final snap of the half.
The Duke defense came up with one more big play during the initial stages of the second half, stoning VT running back Trey Edmunds on 4th-and-1 from the opposing 37-yard line. The Blue Devils proceeded to march 63 yards in six plays, aided by a pair of costly penalties by the Hokies, and went up 13-0 when Boone broke free on a 9-yard designed run with 6:14 left in the third quarter.
"We had a game plan and we just made plays. That's what it came down to," said Brown. "We made plays in critical situations in the red zone. We came up big every time we needed to."
A 56-yard connection from Thomas to Demetri Knowles with Virginia Tech backed down to its own end zone finally sprung the Hokies to life. Thomas ripped off a 17-yard scramble shortly after the long gainer, and later capped the 99-yard series by plowing into the end zone on a 5-yard quarterback draw with 11 seconds to go in the third quarter.
After Virginia Tech forced a quick three-and-out on the ensuing drive to get the ball back near midfield, the Hokies marched 31 yards in 10 plays to set up Journell's 42-yard field goal that trimmed the deficit to 13-10 with 9:23 remaining.
Fuller's third interception, which came on an underthrown deep ball by Boone less than a minute after Journell's kick, gave Virginia Tech a chance to tie when Journell lined up for a 40-yard field goal with around six minutes to play. However, the try was pulled wide to the left and Duke remained in front.
"I'm concerned when a guy as steady as Cody misses two," said Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer. "There was some pressure on that last one. I don't know exactly what happened, but there was some pressure."
Kelby Brown kept the Blue Devils ahead by intercepting a Thomas bullet that went through Knowles' hands with under 4 1/2 minutes left, and a short rush by Brandon Cornette on 4th-and-1 followed by Boone's 11-yard scramble after Virginia Tech used its last time out enabled Duke to run out the clock.
Virginia Tech had won 12 straight meetings in the series ... Duke finished 0- for-11 on third-down conversions, with the Hokies going just 4-for-18 in those situations ... Martin is now 4-for-4 lifetime on field goal attempts from 50 yards or more, with his previous best a 52-yarder in last year's Belk Bowl ... Thomas' rushing touchdown was the 24th of his career, breaking a tie with current Baltimore Raven Tyrod Taylor for the most by a QB in VT history ... Hokies cornerback Antone Exum, an All-ACC selection last year, made his season debut after missing the first seven games recovering from a torn ACL sustained in January.