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North Carolina defeats Duke, 19-6

Posted Sunday, November 8, 2009

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Chapel Hill, NC – North Carolina scored 13 second-half points to earn a 19-6 victory over Duke in ACC football action in front of 59,750 this evening at Kenan Stadium. Running back Ryan Houston led the Tar Heel offense with 37 carries for 164 yards.

Despite a valiant effort from the Duke defense, the UNC defensive front proved to be too much for the Blue Devils. The Tar Heels held Duke to just 125 yards of offense, 120 of which came from senior quarterback Thaddeus Lewis. North Carolina finished the game 11-for-20 on third down conversions, while Duke was 2-of-13.

North Carolina got on the board first with a field goal on its opening possession. Starting at their own 26-yard line, the Tar Heels made their way to the Duke 23-yard line before the Blue Devil defense came up with three stops to force a field goal. Casey Barth came on the field and knocked the 40-yard attempt through the uprights for the 3-0 lead at the 11:25 mark.

Duke opened its first drive with good field position as freshman receiver Conner Vernon returned the kickoff 36 yards to its own 40-yard line. The Blue Devils, however, were unable to get anything going and punted after a three-and-out.

It was a defensive battle over the next four possessions, with four punts and two first downs. The first big play from Duke came from freshman Jordon Byas on special teams. The rookie safety broke through and blocked Grant Schallock’s punt. Byas picked up the loose ball at the 31-yard line and ran to the 30 to put Duke in North Carolina territory for the first time of the afternoon.

Facing a 2nd-and-16, Lewis found tight end Brandon King on the left sideline for 22 yards and Duke’s first first down of the afternoon. The Blue Devils found themselves in another 3rd-and-long situation from the North Carolina 13-yard line. Lewis fired the ball to Austin Kelly for eight yards, but came up one yard short of the first-down marker.

Duke evened the score as Nick Maggio came on for the 23-yard field goal with 1:10 left to play in the first quarter.

North Carolina put together its longest possession of the afternoon on its next drive, eating up 6:04 and 62 yards to take a 6-3 lead on a Barth 29-yard field goal. The Blue Devils forced a Tar Heel punt after a sack from defensive tackle Vince Oghobaase put North Carolina at 4th-and-17. Duke took over at its 48-yard line after the punt with 3:26 left to play.

Up against a 3rd-and-10, Lewis rifled a pass to Vernon, coming up just short of the first down and setting up a 4th-and-1 situation. Duke elected to go for the first down, handing the ball to tailback Jay Hollingsworth, who churned his way to the first down at the North Carolina 30-yard line.

Duke moved the ball to the Tar Heel eight-yard line, but was unable to punch it in the end zone, setting up a Maggio field goal from 26 yards to tie the game, 6-6, at halftime.

The third quarter proved to be much of the same for both squads, as the first five possessions of the third quarter ended in punts. Duke came out of the gates strong, with Lewis running for consecutive first downs, but the Tar Heels wrapped up the Blue Devils to force a punt.

Behind the running game of Houston, North Carolina broke into Duke territory at the 43-yard line with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter. After Houston gained nine yards on the first two plays for the Tar Heels, junior quarterback T.J. Yates stepped back to pass on 3rd-and-1. His pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage by linebacker Vincent Rey and intercepted by cornerback Leon Wright at the 33-yard line. Wright added 30 yards to the return to put Duke in North Carolina territory at the 37-yard line. Wright’s interception was his fifth of the season and 10th of his career.

Duke picked up five yards on the first two plays before returning the favor with an interception from Lewis. Charles Brown picked off Lewis’ pass and returned the ball to the Duke 20-yard line before tailback Re'quan Boyette tripped him up.

The Blue Devil defense came up big as it pushed North Carolina back four yards to hold it to a 41-yard field goal from Barth for a 9-6 lead after three quarters of action.

Duke receiver Johnny Williams took the ensuing kickoff in the fourth quarter and ran it back 38-yards to the Blue Devil 44-yard line. A personal foul penalty on North Carolina pushed Duke to the Tar Heel 41-yard line where the Blue Devil offense stalled.

Unable to gain any yards on the first two plays from scrimmage, Duke was up against another 3rd-and-long play. Lewis quickly fired a pass to receiver Donovan Varner for seven yards to set up a 4th-and-4 situation. Electing to go for it, Lewis just missed Vernon on the pass to give North Carolina back the ball on its own 35-yard line.

Paced by Houston’s 55 yards on nine carries, the Tar Heels traveled 65 yards over the next 6:16 to seemingly put the game away at 16-6. Receiver Jheranie Boyd capped off the drive with a three-yard scamper to the right side.

The Tar Heels added a field goal with 3:56 left to earn the two Carlyle Cup points and push North Carolina’s lead to 5.5-2.

Duke will be at home against No. 10 Georgia Tech on Nov. 14.

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North Carolina defeats Duke, 19-6