DURHAM, N.C. – Duke all but eliminated No. 15 North Carolina from the ACC Coastal Division race by locking down the Tar Heels’ vaunted offense in Thursday’s 28-27 upset win.
UNC scored 14 points on its first two possessions, and then scored just 13 points over its next nine possessions.
Mitch Trubisky completed 24 of his 33 passes for 297 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions, including a pick on UNC’s final drive. The Tar Heels were unable to find much traction on the ground, rushing for 106 yards on 27 carries. Elijah Hood finished with 75 yards on 13 carries.
Duke ran 29 more plays than UNC (89-60) and controlled the clock for a 14-minute advantage (36:51-22:21).
Run Defense Woes Reappear
After holding three consecutive ACC opponents to fewer than 190 rushing yards last month, UNC allowed Duke to control the line of scrimmage and churn out 246 rushing yards at a 4.8 yards-per-rush clip and three touchdowns before its final possession. Running back Shaun Wilson led the Blue Devils with 107 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, although quarterback Daniel Jones delivered more impact plays with 94 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries.
Failing to Capitalize
UNC started three possessions in prime territory - at its 48, at the 50 and at Duke’s 25 – and scored three points. The Tar Heels netted 10 yards on those three possessions.
Freshman punter Tom Sheldon averaged 45.2 yards on four punts, downing three punts inside the five-yard line and another one at the 12. With UNC needing a field position edge down one with 8:39 to play, Sheldon pinned Duke at the 1-yard line.
Third Down Struggles
UNC entered Thursday night ranked ninth nationally in third down conversion percentage, picking up first downs 48.8 percent of the time. It didn’t come quite as easy at Wallace Wade Stadium, where the Tar Heels hit on 40.0 percent of their conversions and most importantly failed to convert six of its last eight. The primary reason being an inability to get ahead of the chains: UNC’s average distance to go on third down was 8.9 yards.
Victory Bell Departs
The storyline in Chapel Hill leading up to this rivalry matchup was the revamped Victory Bell, but it was the Blue Devils that charged the bell while the fans were rushing the field following their first ACC win of the season.
UNC steps out of conference one last time to host FCS opponent The Citadel on Nov. 19.