Duke lost in the final minutes to Georgia Tech 38-35 on Saturday in an entertaining ACC Coastal matchup but apparently lost much more than the game itself.
The school announced on Sunday afternoon that the Blue Devils will be without leading rusher Jela Duncan the rest of the season after the senior tore his Achilles after celebrating a touchdown run by teammate Shaun Wilson in the third quarter.
“Certainly we are all heartbroken for Jela and his family,” head coach David Cutcliffe said in a release. “His passion, toughness and level of commitment have been exemplary, and everyone in our program has benefited from his presence. As one of six players to rush for two thousand-plus yards in the history of Duke University, Jela’s play on the field speaks for itself, but what he has meant to our program off the field is also extremely relevant. He’s a special young man who, with our support, I know will attack this next challenge.”
Duncan led the team in rushing yards (450) and touchdowns (six) on the year and was a focal point for the Duke offense. As a result of his absence, Wilson likely takes over as the starter with junior Joseph Ajeigbe backing him up.
What’s really wild for the Blue Devils is this is the second major injury the team has suffered in the backfield in 2016 as senior quarterback Thomas Sirk tore his Achilles during fall camp. It’s typically a somewhat rare injury for football players so to have your starting backfield both suffer an Achilles tear is some mighty bad luck in Durham.
Duncan finishes his career with 2,025 yards and 17 touchdowns on the ground, ranking sixth on the school’s career rushing list.