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

Hill.

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

quarter.

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

second drive.

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

less.