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UNC 27, Duke 28: Tar Heels not good enough on either side of the ball

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Despite starting well, nothing went right as the Tar Heels lose the Victory Bell.

North Carolina v Duke Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

This game started with UNC forcing a Duke punt, and scoring on the following possession. After Duke punted again on their next possession, the Tar Heels scored another touchdown to go up 14-0.

After that, almost nothing went right for North Carolina. The offense put up just 13 points the rest of the way, and the bad defense made an appearance. UNC allowed 468 total yards, losing the game, and the Victory Bell, 28-27.

On those opening two drives, Mitch Trubisky and the UNC offense looked pretty solid. They moved the ball without much trouble on the first two drives, both ending in Trubisky touchdown passes.

However, starting on the very next Duke drive, things started to go downhill. The Blue Devils punched in their first score of the game on the first play of the second quarter. After Carolina punted on their next drive, Duke marched back down the field with another long touchdown drive.

UNC answered back with a touchdown on their next possession. Trubisky found Carl Tucker wide open on a nicely designed play to go up 21-14. However, that would be the last touchdown Carolina scored, and the second quarter wasn’t halfway over.

Duke’s third score followed on the very next drive. That one, like the first two, was finished after a 10+ play drive, that kept the Tar Heels’ defense on the field for long stretches. UNC had a chance to re-take the lead going into halftime, but their final drive stalled around midfield.

UNC also got the ball to start the second half, but that drive was ended after Trubisky was picked off. A short while later, Carolina finally did re-take the lead on a Nick Weiler field goal. However, that was immediately erased as Duke scored a touchdown on their next possession. Another UNC field goal cut the deficit to one heading into the fourth quarter, but the scoring stopped there.

The Tar Heels managed just 31 yards in the final quarter. Two long Duke drives kept UNC off the field for long stretches of the fourth. With 1:51 left in the game, Carolina got the ball back with seemingly one last chance. Five plays into the drive, Trubisky was picked off again, unclear who was actually trying to throw to.

After averaging over nine yards per play in the first quarter, the offense sputtered for the next three. The lone bright spot was Elijah Hood, who led the team in rushing and receiving. A bit annoying that he got just 13 rushes, despite being UNC’s most effective option.

As far as the defense goes, their inability to get third down stops hurt them the most. Duke converted 10 of 17 third downs, and ran 20 more plays than UNC did. Quarterback Daniel Jones torched the Tar Heels on the ground, running for 94 yards, including a couple big third down conversions.

With that, UNC’s chances at another Coastal Division title ended. Next week, Carolina plays The Citadel, who despite being a good FCS team, probably shouldn’t be a match for the Tar Heels. However, with a game against NC State still on the horizon, UNC’s going to need to fix some things in the coming weeks.