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Duke has one more kick than Tar Heels

The SportsXchange

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Duke might be picking up more believers in what has become a dream season for the Blue Devils.

Next stop is the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game for the first time after a 27-25 victory over rival North Carolina on Saturday at Kenan Stadium.

"We just keep on going to the next thing," senior cornerback Ross Cockrell said. "We enjoy what we do, but the job isn't done."

No. 24 Duke won it on Ross Martin's 27-yard field goal with 2:22 remaining to cap an 11-play drive.

The Blue Devils trailed in the second half for the fourth time in their last five games.

"We just knew what time it was," receiver Jamison Crowder said. "We had to go down and at least get a field goal."

The Tar Heels reached the Duke 49 with 25 seconds left before safety DeVon Edwards' game-sealing interception.

North Carolina held the lead briefly on Thomas Moore's 37-yard field goal with 7:03 remaining.

The Blue Devils (10-2, 6-2 in the ACC), who will face unbeaten Florida State next Saturday night in Charlotte, N.C., secured the first 10-win season in school history.

Duke was picked last in the preseason Coastal Division projections.

"Could you ask for a better story in college football?" tight end Braxton Deaver asked.

North Carolina (6-6, 4-4), which was aiming for its first six-game winning streak since 1997, would have grabbed a share of the Coastal Division title with a victory.

"Guys are hurt," North Carolina safety Tre Boston said. "Guys put everything on the line."

Duke moved into North Carolina territory on its final drive one play after Boston couldn't corral a would-be interception.

The Tar Heels reached the Duke nine-yard line with less than eight minutes to play and it would have been third-and-two, but center Russell Bodine's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty pushed them back and they settled for the go-ahead field goal and a 25-24 lead.

"We didn't play well enough to win a football game," North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said. "There's a lot of things you can look at in this game that we didn't do and we didn't accomplish."

Duke quarterback Anthony Boone completed 23-of-34 passes for 274 yards. That helped the Blue Devils convert on 8-of-15 third downs.

"Make those plays and you're probably going to win the football game," Deaver said.

North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams' first pass of the second half was intercepted by Duke linebacker Kelby Brown.

The Blue Devils turned that into a touchdown on receiver Jamison Crowder's seven-yard, third-down catch of Boone's pass in the back of the end zone.

Duke led, 24-15, with 12:08 left in the third quarter.

Williams, who had a nine-pass stretch without a completion bridging the two halves, directed a third-quarter touchdown drive that concluded with a 23-yard pass to receiver Quinshad Davis.

That was the 10th touchdown reception of the season for Davis, the third-most in a single in school history.

Williams ended up with 223 yards on 17-of-36 passing. He also ran for a game-high 104 yards on 16 carries.

Duke's 17-play, 95-yard drive netted only a 22-yard field goal by Martin in the second quarter. It was the first sequence in 23 times this season that the Blue Devils had first-and-goal and didn't score a touchdown.

Shortly after, the Blue Devils forced a punt, but Crowder muffed the attempted catch and the Tar Heels recovered at the Duke 34.

A gain of 17 yards on a pass to tight end Eric Ebron on fourth-and-seven extended North Carolina's possession. It ended after a fumble ruling near the goal line was overturned and Williams ran in from one yard.

The Tar Heels tacked on a two-point conversion, with holder Tommy Hibbard throwing to Moore.

Edwards returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a go-ahead touchdown with 1:19 left before halftime.

Both teams moved the ball earlier.

North Carolina struck first on Williams' one-yard scoring run in the first quarter. The big play on a three-play, 89-yard drive was Ebron's 79-yard reception.

Duke used a 17-yard pass from Boone to Crowder, who caught the game-winning pass last year against the Tar Heels, to pull even, 7-7, with 2:31 left in the first quarter. It was a 13-play, 74-yard march.

That catch was Crowder's 85th of the season, tying the Duke record set last year by Conner Vernon.

Moore missed a 42-yard field goal attempt to end the Tar Heels' first possession.

NOTES: North Carolina TE Eric Ebron set an ACC single-season receiving yardage record for a tight end with 895, passing former Maryland TE Vernon Davis (871). Ebron announced earlier in the week that he would forego his final season of eligibility and enter the NFL Draft. ... Duke's first punt went 40 yards, but bounced out of bounds on one hop, drawing boos from the home crowd because it didn't give WR Ryan Switzer, who has tied an ACC record with four punt returns for touchdowns, a chance. ... Backup QB Brandon Connette of Duke had his first reception of the season for a first-quarter, first-down pickup of five yards. ... North Carolina scored its first two-point conversion of the season in the second quarter. ... Opponents scored first in six of Duke's eight ACC games. ... Forty-two of North Carolina's 50 touchdowns this season have been scored by freshmen or sophomores.
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