Chazz Surratt passed for 259 and rushed for 77 yards, but Duke moves to 4-0 on the season while North Carolina falls to 1-3 and loses their opening Coastal matchup.
The game started out as a defensive slug-fest. Neither team could get the ball into the end zone with both defenses getting tremendous amounts of pressure on the opposing quarterback. The Blue Devils had a couple of big plays, but could not capitalize, and it seemed as if the Tar Heels were doomed to play from their side of the 50.
That all changed when Surratt handed the ball to Jordan Brown who flicked it back to him and found Austin Proehl for a marvelous 47-yard reception. This set up a 34-yard field goal after Surratt was sacked on 3rd and Goal from the 10, putting the Tar Heels up 3-0 with less than two minutes left in the First Quarter.
Duke would answer quickly, however, with a three-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in less than a minute. The Blue Devils would then push their lead to 10-3 on a 27-yard field goal early in the Second Quarter.
In the Second Quarter, both teams seemed to find something of a rhythm (and only in the passing game for North Carolina), but again, could not capitalize early on. Surratt was nearly sacked and intercepted near his own goal line and Duke had a field goal blocked.
With 20 seconds left in the half, the Tar Heels took over at their own 20 yard line, down by seven. Needing to get some points on the board, North Carolina took a shot down the field to potentially get in field goal range. Instead, they completed two passes in 13 seconds to Anthony Ratliff-Williams for the tying score.
The Blue Devils came out swinging in the Third Quarter with a 19-play, 70-yard drive in seven minutes. However, M.J. Stewart had a big pass break-up on 3rd and Goal from the six yard line, forcing Duke to go for the field goal and push their lead to 13-10.
North Carolina wouldn’t go away, though. A six play, 75-yard touchdown drive (capped by a 56-yard Surratt run for the score, the longest since a 60-yard touchdown run by Darian Durant in 2003) put the Tar Heels back in the driver’s seat at 17-13 with just over five minutes remaining in the Third Quarter.
On the next few drives, there were highlights, but no scores. Tomon Fox put Daniel Jones on the ground on third down and Chazz Surratt had a stiff-arm that shook the stadium, but alas, the Third Quarter ended and no one added to the score.
For the fourth time in as many games, the Tar Heels went into the Fourth Quarter with a lead. However, a quick three-and-out gave the ball back to the Blue Devils. Neither team, again, could move the ball very well, punting on each of their first two possessions in the Fourth Quarter.
With just over nine minutes remaining, Daniel Jones found T.J. Rahming for a 45 yard completion to the North Carolina 29. The Tar Heels were able to stop Duke short on third down, but Jones completed a 12 yard pass on 4th and 5 to the 12 yard line. Three plays later, Duke found the end zone to take the 20-17 lead with 6:09 remaining.
Down by three with just under six minutes, remaining, the Tar Heels needed something big to happen. On 3rd and 12, Duke sent the house on a blitz and it paid off. Surratt was hit and tried to find Ratliff-Williams near the first down marker. Ratliff-Williams was slipping down and Bryon Fields, Duke’s eldest cornerback and defensive leader, intercepted an ugly throw and ran it 61 yards for the score to put the Blue Devils up 27-17 with just under four minutes remaining.
The Tar Heels moved the ball into the red zone with a few seconds remaining but came up empty handed as they turned it over on downs to end the game.
Anthony Ratliff-Williams had a big day going for 125 yards on five receptions.
Austin Proehl, Rontavious Groves, and Tyler Powell all went down with serious injuries. Their status is unknown at this time.
Duke converted 7-18 3rd Down and were a perfect 2-2 on 4th Down conversions. On the flip side, North Carolina was 3-16 on 3rd Down conversions and 2-3 on 4th Downs.
The Blue Devils controlled the time of possession at 33:36 to the Tar Heels 26:24.