DETROIT — Daniel Jones threw for two touchdowns and ran for another as Duke beat NIU 36-14 in the Quick Lane Bowl on Tuesday.
Jones finished with 338 yards of offense, while Shaun Wilson and Brittain Brown added touchdowns for Duke (7-6).
“We knew NIU had a lot of success rushing the passer this year, but our offensive line really controlled things,” Jones said. “That really opened things up.”
Marcus Childers threw for 234 yards and a score for NIU (8-5), which suffered its fifth straight bowl loss.
The Blue Devils took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, sandwiching rushing touchdowns around a failed NIU fake punt on fourth-and-18 from their own 11.
“They were being physical with our gunners, so we thought we could get a pass interference and a first down,” Huskies coach Rod Carey said. “They didn’t bite, and we had a punter throwing to a defensive back.”
The Huskies had two first downs and 46 yards in the quarter, but tied the game with two scores in the first 2:38 of the second. Duke, though, moved back into a 26-14 lead with two touchdowns before halftime.
“We let up for a little while, and they took advantage of our mistakes,” Duke linebacker Joe Giles-Harris said. “We knew we had to get focused again, and we shut them out from there.”
Jones fumbled on the first possession of the second half, but NIU turned the ball back over after a failed fake field goal.
NIU: The Huskies recovered from the disastrous first-quarter fake punt to get back into the game, but couldn’t stay with Duke on either side of the ball.
Duke: Other than the start of the second quarter, where they lost defensive focus on back-to-back possessions, the Blue Devils were in complete control.
NIU: After winning at Nebraska, the Huskies thought they were on the verge of another big season. However, conference losses to Toledo and Central Michigan knocked them out of MAC title contention and they were overmatched against Duke.
“This is disappointing, but we’re going to have a good group of players coming back next year,” Carey said. “We can build on this.”
Duke: By winning their final three games, the Blue Devils take some momentum into the offseason. At 4-6 after a loss to Army on Nov. 11, they were in danger of missing out on a bowl for the second year in a row, but they beat Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and NIU.