MIAMI (AP) -- In a game with repeated scores, a crucial defensive play helped maintain Duke's winning streak Saturday night.
The Blue Devils rallied from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit and defeated Florida International 31-27 before a home record crowd of 22,682 at FIU Stadium.
Juwan Thompson scored two fourth quarter touchdowns to lead the Blue Devils to their third straight victory after starting the season 0-2.
"This was a game that a lot of players contributed to the win," Duke coach David Cutcliff said. "We did what we had to do win to win late."
The Blue Devils took the lead for good on Thompson's second touchdown, a 9-yard run with 6:52 remaining. On the previous play, Jordan DeWalt-Ondijo sacked Panthers quarterback Wesley Carroll, forcinga fumble. Anthony Young-Wiseman recovered the fumble at the Florida International 23 and ran it to the 9-yard-line.
"I just knocked the ball out; that's all I could do," DeWalt-Onjido said. "As long as we got the ball, I knew our offense was going to score."
The Panthers drove to the Blue Devils' 12-yard line, but Carroll's fourth-down pass to T.Y. Hilton in the end zone fell incomplete with 2:29 remaining.
The Blue Devils cut it to 27-24 on Thompson's 6-yard run with 11:56 left. Sean Renfree's 52-yard pass to Conner Vernon to the Panthers 9-yard line set up Thompson's run.
Renfree completed 28 of 43 passes for 335 yards and two touchdowns.
"We continued to compete," Cutcliff said. "Maybe two years ago, we get down 10 points like this in the fourth and we'd get beat by 20."
Carroll threw his third touchdown pass with 13:30 remaining in the fourth quarter and put the Panthers ahead 27-17. Carroll connected with Wayne Times on a 34-yard catch and run.
Carroll finished 25 of 39 for 348 yards. After winning their first three, the Panthers are now 3-2.
"We knew coming in that it was going to be a dog fight and a shoot-out," Hilton said. "We knew that it would come down to the end and whoever made plays in the fourth quarter would earn the victory. We played hard but that's not good enough."
The teams exchanged leads twice during a 31-point first quarter.
Florida International erased a 3-0 deficit on one play as Carroll connected with Hilton for a 63-yard play action touchdown pass and a 7-3 lead.
The Blue Devils countered and retook the lead 14-10 with a five-play, 68-yard play drive capped by Renfree's 31-yard touchdown pass to Conner Vernon. Vernon finished with eight receptions and 117 yards.
"This is one of those games that we kept fighting and kept going," said Vernon, a graduate of Miami's Gulliver Prep.
Duke's lead was short-lived as Carroll's 15-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Faucher culminated a 10-play, 85 yard drive and gave the Panthers a 14-10 advantage.
Renfree threw his second touchdown pass on the next Duke drive when he connected with Cooper Helfet for 22 yards and gave the Blue Devils a 17-14 lead late in the quarter.
"That's how football is, both teams came out shooting," Renfree said. "But in time I knew both defenses were going to settle down."
Renfree completed 12 of 14 passes for 173 yards in the first quarter and Carroll was 9 of 12 for 157 yards.
The scoring subsided in the second quarter. Florida International kicker Jack Griffin scored the only points of the quarter on a 36-yard field goal with 4:01 remaining to tie it at 17.
"Three straight wins like this is only going to motivate us for conference play," Vernon said.