Game Blog: Duke downs UNC 27-25, advances to ACC title
Posted November 29, 2013
Updated November 30, 2013
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — FINAL: The Blue Devils intercepted Marquise Williams as the Tar Heels were driving with under a minute to play to seal the 27-25 win Saturday. With the win Duke will play in the ACC Championship game against Florida State.
2:22 fourth quarter; Duke 27, UNC 25: Huge defensive stops by the Tar Heels force Duke to go for the field goal. The 27-yard attempt by Ross Martin gives the Blue Devils the lead late in the fourth quarter.
7:03 fourth quarter; UNC 25, UNC 24: North Carolina grabs the lead on a 37-yard field goal by Thomas Moore.
5:10 third quarter; Duke 24, UNC 22: Marquise Williams connects with Quinshad Davis for a 23-yard touchdown. Heels trail 24-22.
12:08 third quarter; Duke 24, UNC 15: Duke's Kelby Brown intercepts Marquise Williams on the Tar Heels' opening second half drive. Duke starts their drive from midfield and in seven plays Anthony Boone connects with Jamison Crowder for the touchdown. Duke extends their lead to 24
0:04 second quarter; Duke 17, UNC 15: Duke attempts a 55-yard field goal to close out the first half but misses it to keep the score 17-15.
1:19 second quarter; Duke 17, UNC 15: Duke's DeVon Edwards returns it 99 yards for a touchdown and the 17-10 lead.
1:30 second quarter; UNC 15, Duke 10: The Heels get the ball on the Duke 34 after a muffed punt by Jamison Crowder. Carolina cannot move the ball and is faced with 4th down and 7 from the 31. Eric Ebron catches a 17-yard pass for the first down. A few plays later Marquise Williams scores on a one-yard rush. The Heels go for two and get it on a Tommy Hibbard to Thomas Moore pass. The Tar Heels take a 15-10 lead.
6:31 second quarter; Duke 10, UNC 7: In 16 plays Duke took the ball down the field to the three. On third down and three, Anthony Boone opted to keep it and is stopped at the line of scrimmage. Duke is forced to settle for a 22-yard field goal and a 10-7 lead.
2:31 first quarter; Duke 7, UNC 7: Duke effectively moved the ball down the field through the air leading to a Anthony Boone to Jamison Crowder 17-yard touchdown pass. The extra point is good and the game is tied at 7 all.
8:22 first quarter; UNC 7, Duke 0: North Carolina's Eric Ebron gets the Heels down to the Duke 10 after a 79 yard catch and run down the right side. That is his longest catch run on the season. Quarterback Marquise Williams keeps it for a nine yard rush and follows it up with a one yard push for the touchdown. The extra point is good and the Heels take a 7-0 lead.
12:00 first quarter; UNC 0, Duke 0: The Blue Devils went three and out on their opening drive and the Heels easily moved the ball down the field on theirs. Carolina can't break into the redzone and are forced to settle for a 42- yard field goal attempt. The kick goes wide right and the score remains 0-0.
Being the last home game of the season, the North Carolina seniors are being honored on the field prior to kick-off. Joining the seniors is junior Eric Ebron who announced he will be entering the 2014 NFL draft earlier this week.
Pregame: With each win in a historically successful season, Duke coach David Cutcliffe said his team would have to follow up with an even bigger win the following week.
That approach has brought the No. 24 Blue Devils here, within a win of an improbable Coastal Division championship and a ticket to the Atlantic Coast Conference title game. It all depends on whether they can beat surging rival North Carolina on Saturday.
"What it ended up being is two teams that are on a win streak, that are playing as well as anybody in the league coming together," Cutcliffe said. "And it happens to be a rival game and it happens to be on a holiday weekend. (The players) were able to write their own story and write their own challenge, and that's what this ultimately is."
The Blue Devils (9-2, 5-2 ACC) have won seven straight to tie the program's single-season record for victories, while the Tar Heels (6-5, 4-3) have won five straight to dig out from a 1-5 start and become bowl eligible.
If Duke can beat North Carolina for the second straight year, the Blue Devils will face No. 2 Florida State in Charlotte next week for Duke's first ACC title since 1989.
"I said a long time ago I think people would doubt us for a while that we were going to be able to make it to the championship, and now we're in position to do that," Duke linebacker Kelby Brown said. "It doesn't get much bigger than this."
The Tar Heels are still irked by losing to the Blue Devils — UNC's first loss in the series since 2003 — on a last-second touchdown in last year.
"Regardless of playing in the ACC championship or not, there's still a lot to play for," UNC freshman receiver Ryan Switzer said. "We want to send these seniors out with a win against Duke in their final year. If we can beat them and keep them home for the ACC championship game and send one of these other teams, we'd love to do it."
Here are five things to watch in Saturday's Duke-North Carolina game:
SWITZER'S RETURNS: Switzer has returned four punts for touchdowns in the past three games, tying an ACC single-season record and an NCAA record for consecutive games with a TD punt return. Coach Larry Fedora said Switzer has improved significantly in understanding the blocking schemes on returns, which has allowed Switzer to score on returns of 61, 65, 65 and 85 yards in that span. He also had two long TD catches last week in the 80-20 rout of Old Dominion.
RUNNING BLUE DEVILS: Duke is having its most successful rushing season in more than three decades, running for 179 yards per game with a rotation at running back and dual-threat quarterback Brandon Connette. Duke ran for 358 yards in a win against Miami two weeks ago but managed just 121 while grinding out a tough win at Wake Forest last week. The Tar Heels have played better defense in the second half of the season, but they can't afford to let the Blue Devils turn in a big rushing performance.
ANSWERING THE BELL: The Tar Heels have built big first-half leads in each of their past three games, though they had to turn away a second-half comeback to win at Pittsburgh. The Blue Devils, meanwhile, have trailed 10-0 and 14-0 in their last two games. Duke doesn't want a repeat against a UNC team brimming with confidence and eager to get back the Victory Bell that goes to the winner of the long-running rivalry.
GOAL TO GO: Duke is one of two teams nationally — division member Georgia Tech is the other — that has converted every goal-to-go chance into a touchdown. The Blue Devils have scored touchdowns on 22 chances, with Connette running for 13 scores.
EBRON'S FINALE: UNC junior tight end Eric Ebron said Monday he will enter the NFL draft after the season, turning Saturday into an early Senior Day for him. Ebron will fall short of Fedora's preseason target of 12 touchdown catches and hasn't reached the end zone since his 199-yard day against Miami on Oct. 17, but he can still change the game if Marquise Williams can connect with him downfield. Ebron had five catches for 68 yards in last year's matchup.
AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Durham contributed to this report.
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