Holmberg accounts for five TDs as Duke decks Kansas, 52-33

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DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Gunnar Holmberg tied a school record with four rushing touchdowns and threw for a fifth as Duke overcame Kansas for a 52-33 victory Saturday, its third straight win.

The Blue Devils (3-1) struck for 21 points during a six-minute span of the third quarter, taking the lead on the way to eclipsing their 2020 win total.

Holmberg’s scoring runs came from 4, 1, 3 and 13 yards. He threw for 328 yards, completing 22 of 29 passes.

Holmberg became the eighth Duke player with four rushing touchdowns in a game and the first since quarterback Brandon Connette ran for four in 2013.

“It’s part of the game plan,” Holmberg said of his 17 carries for 88 yards. “The O-line did their part. The receivers (blocked well) on the perimeter.”

Holmberg needed brief medical attention following his final TD run. He said he just had the wind knocked out of him.

Duke’s Mataeo Durant ran for 124 yards on 21 carries, including a 57-yard touchdown for the game’s first points. Jake Bobo made seven catches for 105 yards.

“We’ve got a lot of weapons and we’ve got to continue to grow and get better,” Duke coach David Cutcliffe said. “I think our offense is playing at an extremely high level.”

Jason Bean went 19-for-32 for 323 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for Kansas. Trevor Wilson had 122 receiving yards on five catches and Devin Neal ran for 107 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries.

Kansas (1-3) led 24-21 at halftime courtesy of Neal’s 1-yard run on fourth down with 1:04 left. The Jayhawks boosted the margin on Jacob Borcila’s 29-yard field goal on the first possession of the second half.

“You go out every drive knowing you’ve got to respond,” Holmberg said.

Duke posted the next 24 points, aided by linebacker Shaka Heyward’s interception of Bean, setting up Holmberg’s 3-yard run two plays later.

“They run a lot of explosive plays,” Kansas coach Lance Leipold said. “We didn’t tackle as well as we need. That continues to be a spot we need to work on.”

Kansas had three possessions inside the Duke 25 in the first quarter. The second time, Borcila booted a 50-yard field goal for the Jayhawks’ first points. Bean’s swing pass to Torry Locklin resulted in a 20-yard touchdown.

THE TAKEAWAY

Kansas: The Jayhawks have been outscored 97-26 in the second half of games this season after Duke held a 31-9 edge following the break.

Duke: The Blue Devils have won three in a row for the first time since September 2019. Since then, six of the team’s seven victories have come in home games.

JUST HALF THE JOB

Duke has hit first-half snags regularly in three of its first four games. That’s something that needs to be adjusted,

“Going into ACC play, there’s no room for error,” defensive end Ben Frye said. “We’ve got to bring it right away. … So many things to clean up. So many things to look at.”

Cutcliffe said the Blue Devils need to click it into gear quicker.

“Certainly love playing better in the second half because we didn’t get off to a great start,” Cutcliffe said.

THAT’S OUT OF THE WAY

Duke has completed the non-conference portion of its schedule. The Blue Devils are 20-6 in non-league outings.

“I don’t think there’s any satisfaction,” Cutcliffe said. “I hope they’re as hungry as I think they are.”

Duke plays three of four October games on the road.

NOT CASHING IN

The Jayhawks didn’t follow up on momentum plays and that bothered Leipold.

After Ra’Mello Dotson’s 65-yard interception return in the first quarter, the possession ended with a missed field goal. Neal ran 62 yards on the first snap of the second half, but Kansas only turned that into three points.

“Those are margin of error and execution in some key times are not where they completely need to be,” the first-year coach said.

UP NEXT

Kansas: Saturday at Iowa State to begin a steady diet of Big 12 Conference play.

Duke: Atlantic Coast Conference opener Saturday at rival North Carolina.

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