North Carolina 37, Duke 21
Dwight Jones had three touchdown catches while redshirt freshman
Giovani Bernard ran for a season-high 165 yards and a score to help
North Carolina beat Duke 37-21 on Saturday.
Jones finished with 10 catches for 101 yards to set a school
single-season record for receptions, while Bernard had a
season-high 30 carries and finished with 222 total yards to lead
the Tar Heels (7-5, 3-5 Atlantic Coast Conference). Bryn Renner
also threw for 274 yards and tied a school single-season record for
TD passes, helping UNC beat the Blue Devils (3-9, 1-7) for the
eighth straight year.
North Carolina also capitalized on four turnovers, getting a
pair of field goals and Jones’ 8-yard scoring catch midway through
the fourth quarter following those miscues.
Sean Renfree threw a pair of touchdown passes for Duke, though
coach David Cutcliffe went with mobile backup Anthony Boone most of
the way after Renfree took a hard hit on a 45-yard touchdown throw
to Jamison Crowder just before halftime.
Boone led a third-quarter touchdown drive that ended with his
11-yard pass to Donovan Varner and cut North Carolina’s lead to
23-21 late in the third. But the Tar Heels answered when Renner
found Jones for an 18-yard TD grab – Jones hauled it in with his
left hand – that again made it a two-possession game. Then, after
Boone threw an interception to end a drive that had crossed
midfield, Renner directed a 91-yard drive that took 6 1/2 minutes
off the clock before he found Jones for the 8-yard score that made
it 37-21 with 8:17 left.
With the win, North Carolina can look forward to a likely bowl
game and a chance to match its 8-5 record of each of the previous
three seasons, though 16 of those wins were later vacated due to
NCAA penalties. That NCAA investigation into improper benefits and
academic misconduct led to the firing of coach Butch Davis just
before training camp and the promotion of defensive coordinator
Everett Withers to interim coach.
Withers wouldn’t talk in recent days about whether this would be
his final game in Kenan Stadium, saying only that he believed he
was a candidate to be the permanent head coach. Regardless of his
future, he at least extended the Tar Heels’ recent dominance
against the Blue Devils and kept the Victory Bell in Chapel
North Carolina had won 20 of 21 meetings and managed a 100-yard
rusher in six of the last seven meetings, an indication of its
physical edge in the rivalry. This one fit right in, with Bernard
cracking the 100-yard mark in the first half and bursting up the
middle for a 48-yard sprint to the end zone early in the second
Renfree found Juwan Thompson for a 70-yard touchdown pass on a
perfectly called route out of the backfield in the first quarter,
then hit Crowder for a 45-yard score late in the first half despite
taking a late hit from Zach Brown that cut UNC’s lead to 20-14 at
halftime. But Duke went three-and-out on the first drive of the
second half and Renfree fumbled on a blindside sack to end the
Cutcliffe said said Renfree had numbness and swelling in his
right hand in the second half, prompting the switch to Boone midway
through the third quarter.
Duke closed the year with seven straight losses after a 3-2
start. Three of the previous six losses had been by a touchdown or