Battle for the Bell: Duke vs UNC
Daniel Jones’ record-setting day allowed the Duke Blue Devils to continue their recent dominance over rival North Carolina on Saturday.
Jones passed for 361 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 186 yards and another score, lifting Duke to a 42-35 win over the struggling Tar Heels at Wallace Wade Stadium.
Duke (7-3, 3-3 in ACC) beat UNC for the third consecutive season and the fifth time in the last seven meetings.
The 547 combined passing and rushing yards by Jones established a new Duke single-game record for combined passing and rushing yards. The previous record of 476 yards was set by Anthony Dilweg in 1988. Jones’ rushing yards were the most by a Duke quarterback in school history.
He helped the Blue Devils gain 629 yards of total offense, the third time surpassing the 600-yard mark
UNC (1-8, 1-6) scored touchdowns on four of its first six possessions and the game was tied at 28-all late in the second half. But the Tar Heels’ offense stalled after halftime.
The Tar Heels were held scoreless in the second half until scoring on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Nathan Elliott to Thomas Jackson. That left Duke leading 42-35 with 1:15 remaining.
The Tar Heels tried an onsides kick but it was easily recovered by Duke freshman wide receiver Jake Bobo. Duke failed to get a first down and UNC had a Hail Mary pass attempt from the Duke 39 to tie it. But the ball was knocked down in the end zone as time expired.
After gaining 370 yards in the first, UNC gained just 166 yards in the second half. UNC failed to gain a first down and punted on its first five possessions after halftime.
Duke lead North Carolina 42-28 entering the fourth quarter.
Daniel Jones continued his big day with a 68-yard run that set up Quentin Harris’ 2-yard touchdown run that gave Duke a 14-point lead. Jones surpassed the 300-yard passing and 100-yard rushing plateaus in the same game for the third time in his career.
After scoring touchdowns on four of its first six possessions, UNC’s offense stalled. The Tar Heels recorded no third-quarter first downs while gaining just 23 yards.
Duke held a 35-28 lead at halftime as the teams combined for 768 total yards over the first two periods.
Duke took the seven-point lead with, on a simple run up the middle on third-and-4, quarterback Daniel Jones broke free and weaved his way through the UNC defenders for a 61-yard touchdown run with 16 seconds left until halftime.
UNC running back Michael Carter rushed for 122 yards and a touchdown in the first half, helping the Tar Heels gain 272 rushing yards.
For Duke, Jones amassed 113 yards on eight carries. The redshirt junior also completed 15 of 26 passes for 233 yards with three touchdown passes.
UNC’s offense is humming along as well. After Duke took its first lead of the day, UNC moved 81 yards for the tying score. A 35-yard pass play from Nathan Elliott to Anthony Ratliff-Williams moved the Tar Heels to the Duke 16. Freshman running back Javonte Williams scored on a 2-yard run for a touchdown with 9:55 left in the half for a 21-21 score.
Duke’s offense is rolling, averaging 11.1 yards per play, and the Blue Devils took a 21-14 lead early in the second quarter.
After UNC kicker Freeman Jones missed a field goal attempt when the ball bounced off the right upright, Duke moved into the Tar Heels red zone when Daniel Jones threw a 48-yard pass to T.J. Rahming to the UNC 9.
Two plays later, Jones threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Davis Koppenhaver to give Duke its first lead of the day. The touchdown was the 11th of Koppenhaver’s career, a record for a Duke tight end.
Four possessions, four touchdowns for rivals Duke and UNC.
UNC took the opening kickoff and marched 75 yards for the game’s first score. The Tar Heels gained all but 14 yards on the drive. Anthony Ratliff-Williams took a direct snap and ran 13 yards for the game’s first touchdown with 12:11 to play in the first quarter.
Duke responded with a 75-yard drive but did it with a big play. On third and five from the Duke 48, quarterback Daniel Jones fired a pass to Chris Taylor aimed at getting the first down. Taylor caught the ball at the UNC 47, broke a tackle and ran down the left sideline for a touchdown to tie the score at 7.
UNC needed just over two minutes to respond and regain the lead. The Tar Heels started from their own 17, but Michael Carter’s 19-yard run on the drive’s first play set the tone. Carter’s 40-yard touchdown run with 8:16 left in the first quarter gave the Tar Heels a 14-7 lead.
Duke needed less than two minutes to answer and tie the game again. Jones fired a 34-yard pass to Johnathan Lloyd on third down to move Duke into UNC territory. One play later, Jones fired a pass over the middle to a wide open Daniel Helm and the tight end scored on a 26-yard play at 6:20 of the first quarter for a 14-14 tie.
While the Blue Devils are playing without their leading tackler, they hope to add a steady weapon on offense.
Starting linebacker Joe Giles-Harris is not playing in the UNC game after suffering a sprained MCL in Duke’s 20-12 win at Miami on Nov. 3. An all-ACC player a year ago, Giles-Harris leads Duke and is fourth in the ACC in tackles with 81. He’s recorded seven tackles for losses.
At the same time, Duke will have running back Brittain Brown in uniform and he expects to get carries against the Tar Heels. A redshirt sophomore, Brown started Duke’s first five games before knee and ankle injuries sidelined him. In six games this season, he’s carried 64 times for 325 yards, averaging 5.08 yards per carry.
Sophomore Deon Jackson has thrived in Brown’s absence, gaining 162 yards in a 54-45 loss at Pittsburgh and 113 yards in the win at Miami. For the season, Jackson leads Duke with 647 yards on 115 carries (5.63 yards per carry). He has six rushing touchdowns.
Duke coach David Cutcliffe plans to use Brown and Jackson against the Tar Heels, provided Brown’s knee continues to feel good enough for him to play.
For UNC, Nathan Elliott will start at quarterback. Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora had been ambiguous about the injury status of freshman quarterbacks Cade Fortin (knee) and Jace Ruder (shoulder) this week.
UNC senior defensive tackle Jalen Dalton (undislosed injury) will play against Duke. He missed last Saturday’s 38-28 loss to Georgia Tech.