by Mike Potter
Duke will host archrival UNC in a game for the bragging rights in the Western part of the Triangle. The game means everything for the 3-8 Blue Devils, while it will be interesting to see how the 6-5 Tar Heels recover from last week’s heartbreaking home loss to N.C. State.
The Tar Heels will be going bowling in December, and where exactly that’s going to occur is up in the air although the Chick-Fil-A Bowl is the only one with a scout in the house.
UNC has won six straight and 19 of the last 20 in the series.
With students out of town on their holiday break the old stadium seems to be about 80 percent full on a crisp fall afternoon.
The Tar Heels dominate the statistics all day, but have to weather Duke’s fourth-quarter comeback to win 24-19.
After stopping the Tar Heels on fourth-and-1 at the UNC 45, the Blue Devils go 45 yards in six plays with Sean Renfree hitting an open Austin Kelly in the middle of the end zone from nine yards out. Will Snyderwine’s boot makes it 7-0 with 6:19 left in the first quarter.
The Tar Heels strike back on the ensuing drive, going 95 yards in 10 plays with Anthony Elzy going in from five yards out. Casey Barth’s boot makes it 7-7 with 59 seconds left in the period.
UNC takes the lead for the first time with 6:21 left in the half on a 25-yard field goal from Barth, completing a 16-play, 87-yard march to make it 10-7.
The Tar Heels tack on seven more on their first possession after halftime, when T.J. Yates hits Josh Adams from five yards out to finish a 12-play, 80-yard drive. Barth’s boot puts the Tar Heels up 17-7 with 9:54 left in the third.
UNC then has a chance to add to the lead with 6:33 left in the third, but Barth’s 41-yard field-goal attempt is wide right.
The Blue Devils then get the three with 2:27 left in the period, as Snyderwine connects from 21 yards out to finish a nine-play, 73-yard drive and cut the margin to 17-10.
But the Tar Heels get the pad they need with 11:38 left, as Shaun Draughn plunges in from three yards out to finish a 12-play, 81-yard march. Barth’s try stretches the advantage to 24-10.
Duke gets a big break with 4:59 left in the game, as Charlie Hatcher tackles Draughn for a two-yard loss and a safety.
The Blue Devils take over on the UNC 45 following the punt, and six plays later Brandon Connette goes in from two yards out. Snyderwine’s boot makes it 24-19 with 3:20 showing.
Duke gets the ball back at its own 24 with 43 seconds to go, but runs out of time at its own 41.
Seniors playing their last regular-season game are all over the leaderboard for UNC. Elzy rushes 23 times for a career-high 116 yards and a touchdown, while classmate Draughn adds 61 yards and a TD on 13 carries. Senior quarterback Yates is 28-for-35 for 264 yards - making him the first Tar Heel quarterback to surpass the 3,000 mark - and a touchdown, while junior Dwight Jones catches 11 passes for 121 yards.
Renfree completes 24 of 39 passes for 242 yards and a touchdown for Duke, including seven for 67 yards and a score to senior wideout Kelly. Duke senior linebacker Abraham Kromah gets a career-best 20 tackles in his final college game.
They said it …
UNC coach Butch Davis: “I told the players in preparation for this ball game that to win this game it was going to take a total team effort, that there wasn’t going to be any one particular phase that was going to dominate the course of the ball game, and that we were going to get challenged defensively from a very good passing attack. (And) we were going to get challenged from their defensive standpoint from a good front seven and a special-teams unit that has gotten onside kicks and has done a lot of surprises. (Duke has really done things to other opponents, and we had to get very, very prepared. I told the players in the locker room that it took all three phases to win the game tonight."
Duke coach David Cutcliffe: “I don’t have a lot to say. I think trying to be very descriptive of what I saw or how I feel wouldn’t be very accurate. We got whipped. We thought it every sense of the word we were fortunate to be close enough to have a chance. My job is to have us ready to perform at levels that were consistently good. They have a good football team, not a great football team, but we at times made them look like a great football team. … We’re at a point where we’ve got some people to do and not say, and I’m anxious to see the commitment level of what we’ve got to do to take that next step. I didn’t see enough doing today to account for much. The performance I saw today obviously left you with some concerns as we move forward, and I’m anxious to see how we respond to this.”
Yates: “Going into that last game, especially the seniors, we were going to give it our all and we weren't going to let anything stop us. Especially Anthony and Shaun going out there, they just ran especially hard and we just kept feeding them the whole game. That worked out well for us.”
Renfree: “It was a tough one. That’s kind of been the story all year, especially losing at the end there. Their offense did a great job staying out there with their game plan. But it doesn’t help when we’re going three and out and not converting on third down and pretty much handing the ball back to them pretty quick. We were just not executing, honestly. There were opportunities there, especially in the passing game. And we weren’t executing so that hurt us.”
What does it all mean?
That the Tar Heels have a second straight winning season, and that the Blue Devils will have some chips on their shoulders heading into off-season workouts.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Yates’ 40-yard pass to Ryan Taylor during the Tar Heels’ first drive, moving the ball from the UNC 7 to the 47.
UNC leads 57-35-4.
UNC: Won 1.
Duke: Lost 3.
UNC in bowl game TBD.
Duke in 2011 opener TBA.