Troy comes up short in 38-31 loss to Duke

Duke's Dezmond Johnson (42) tackles Troy quarterback Corey Robinson (6) during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013, at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C. Duke won 38-31. (AP Photo/The Herald-Sun, Christine T. Nguyen)

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) Troy's defense made life significantly more difficult for Duke quarterback Brandon Connette in the second half after Connette scored four touchdowns in the first half Saturday.

Unfortunately for the Trojans, Duke's defense did the same things to Troy's quarterbacks.

After scoring four touchdowns in the first 32 minutes, Troy's offense sputtered over the final 28, allowing Duke to emerge with a 38-31 win.

"I figured the game would probably be a high-scoring game, but I didn't know exactly how it would go," said Troy coach Larry Blakeney. "I knew (Duke) could move the football and score a lot of points. They made some plays on us, especially in the first three quarters."

Corey Robinson had 354 yards passing and two touchdowns for Troy (2-3), which lost its third in a row. Jordan Chunn added two touchdowns on the ground.

A holding penalty negated a 56-yard touchdown reception by Troy's Chandler Worthy with 9:37 remaining that would have given the Trojans the lead.

"I don't always like how they call things, but it was a good play by Chandler and we got some blocks," Blakeney said. "It's frustrating. It's real frustrating to be that close."

In a game where much of the offense came before halftime, Connette threw three touchdowns passes and ran for two more to lead Duke (3-2).

The Blue Devils' defense struggled in recent weeks, yielding 344 yards rushing in its loss to Georgia Tech two weeks ago and 424 yards passing to Pittsburgh last week.

While the unit had its troubles against the Trojans, it only allowed three points in the final 28-plus minutes, forcing a number of three-and-outs and only allowing one play longer than 20 yards during that span.

"We didn't change up any schemes," Duke junior linebacker David Helton said. "We didn't really change up anything. . We just made a decision that we're not going to let them get any more yards."

Before the defense buckled down, the Blue Devils built two separate 14-point leads before allowing Troy back in the game.

After Chunn scored on a 1-yard run shortly before halftime, Robinson connected Wilson Van Hooser for a 40-yard touchdown reception to tie the score at 28 with 13:15 left in the third quarter.

Duke converted on three different third-and-longs on its next drive, retaking a seven-point lead when Connette spun his way into the end zone from 4 yards out with 9:46 remaining.

The Trojans pulled within four points 35-31 when Will Scott hit a 37-yard field goal with 12:44 remaining in the game.

But the Blue Devils' defense stiffened from there, and Troy's best offensive play the 56-yard reception by Worthy was called back.

Duke's Ross Martin kicked a 34-field goal with 31 seconds remaining to give the game its final score. Troy got the ball on its 22-yard line with a chance to drive for a game-tying touchdown, but the Trojans' last-second attempt at a Hail Mary was intercepted.

"It was a really tough victory for us, but absolutely proud of our defense," Helton said.

Troy had only 186 yards of total offense in its 62-7 loss to Mississippi State last week.