DURHAM -- Jamison Crowder's 76-yard punt return for a touchdown was the biggest play as the Duke Blue Devils rolled to a victory Saturday over N.C. Central at Wallace Wade Stadium.
The Blue Devils, who ended the 2012 season on a five-game losing streak, were never really pressed in the season-opening game billed as the Bull City Gridiron Classic. Duke led 14-0 after the first quarter and 28-0 at the half.
Crowder's return, the seventh-longest in school history, came late in the first quarter. The junior, who earlier had a 25-yard punt return, bolted up the middle through defenders and veered to the right sideline as Duke took a 14-0 lead.
Anthony Boone made his second career start at quarterback for Duke, efficiently ran the offense and had a short TD run in the first half. Brandon Connette again operated Duke's goal-line offense and passed and ran for touchdowns in the first half, hitting tight end Braxton Deaver for a 3-yard TD for Duke's first score of the season.
A 1-yard TD run by Connette with 10:05 left in the second quarter ended an 11-play, 73-yard drive and pushed the lead to 21-0. Boone scored on a 1-yard run late in the first half to finish off an 11-play, 82-yard drive.
Duke's fourth score came after Central appeared to have gotten on the board when linebacker Tazmon Foster scooped up a fumble by Duke wideout Anthony Nash and scored. But the play was reviewed, Nash was ruled to never have had possession and the fumble overturned.
Boone's 39-yard pass to Ryan Smith, a true freshman, later kept the scoring drive alive. Boone was 14-of-17 passing for 153 yards in the first half.
Duke had three penalties in the opening half and Ross Martin missed a 38-yard field-goal attempt on the Devils' first possession. Those were about the only Duke mistakes and misfires.
Crowder's TD return came after NCCU had fourth-and-1 at its 41. The Eagles first tried to draw the Devils offisides, then took a five-yard delay-of-game penalty before punting.
The Blue Devils and Eagles had faced off twice before -- in 2009 and again last season. Duke picked up two easy wins, 49-14 in the first game and 54-17 last September.
The Eagles, 6-5 last season, were picked to finish fourth in the MEAC this season in a poll of the league's athletic directors and sports information directors.
But NCCU, starting its third year in the Football Championship Subdivsion (FCS), has had a badly disjointed, distracting preseason. Head coach Henry Frazier III was fired Aug. 22 and Dwayne Foster named interim coach.
Frazier was fired after being charged with violating a domestic violence protective order, a misdemeanor. His attorney, Ralph Frasier said Frazier, who is prohibited from having all contact with his ex-wife, sent her a note trying to let her know he had paid for a ticket on their car and that he was going to subtract it from her alimony.
Frazier has appealed to get his job back, accusing the university of violating his civil rights.
Boone's first career start came last season against Virginia. He passed for 212 yards and fourth TDs in a 42-17 victory.
Duke senior offensive tackle Perry Simmons made his 38th consecutive start, the longest active streak in the ACC.