|After snapping 22-game losing streak, it's finally Duke's turn to laugh|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 18 September 2007 10:01|
After spending nearly two full years as a punch line during a 22-game losing streak that's now history, it's finally Duke's turn to laugh.
``We were joking around because everybody's wearing Duke football gear to class now,'' nose guard Ayanga Okpokowuruk said Tuesday. ``It's a good feeling to walk around campus and people are like, 'The football team's winning games.' We've just got to keep it going ... keep this winning thing going and use this game as a springboard.''
For the first time in nearly two years, the Blue Devils (1-2) aren't bouncing back from a close loss or figuring out what went wrong during yet another rout. Instead, they're adjusting to the newfound glee that followed their win at Northwestern and even considering what once seemed unthinkable: the woebegone program's first winning streak since 2003.
Coach Ted Roof, who as the losses piled up kept his players' spirits from sinking too low, now is warning them not to get carried away with their rare victory, opening his weekly news conference by saying the 3-day-old win took place ``a long time ago.''
``It was a great win, but it was one football game, and we have to put that in the proper perspective,'' Roof said. ``The Northwestern game was one game, and we did what we were supposed to do, and I'm very proud of them, but at the same time we've got to get a lot better this week in order to have a chance to beat Navy.''
Still, the 20-14 upset of the Wildcats - who are plenty familiar with losing streak after once dropping a Division I-A-record 34 straight games from 1979-82 - was even more shocking because of how it ended. In the final seconds, a Duke defense that allowed more than 500 total yards stopped Northwestern cold on four plays inside the 10.
The defensive stand clinched Duke's first win since beating VMI on Sept. 17, 2005; its first victory over a major college program since beating Clemson in 2004; its first triumph on the road since a win over North Carolina in '03 and its first victory outside the state's borders since a 2002 win at Navy - where, coincidentally, the Blue Devils play this week.
The unlikely victory set off a rare non-basketball-related celebration back in Durham, with students rushing the field at Wallace Wade Stadium, tearing down one of the goal posts and parading it across campus to the quad and to Duke Chapel. Team officials said replacing the goal post would cost about $5,000, but workers in the school's maintenance department said they were reassembling it after several pieces of the uprights and crossbar had been returned.
``It was really nice to see it missing when we came back,'' left tackle Cameron Goldberg said. ``We expect to win, and we hope there's a lot more tearing down the goal posts this year.''
Now the focus is on winning consecutive games for the first time since beating Western Carolina and Rice in back-to-back weeks in September 2003, and though last week's result failed to make believers out of the oddsmakers - the Midshipmen are nearly 12-point favorites - it certainly gave the Blue Devils an addictive jolt of much-needed optimism.
``It's very important you don't get content with that,'' quarterback Thad Lewis said. ``You get a win and you get incentive. Everything feels good to you, what you did for this whole team, you try to go out and have that feeling, week in and week out.''