Sunday, November 12, 2023

Tar Heels Triumph in Thrilling 2OT Battle Against Blue Devils

CHAPEL HILL – Drake Maye’s quarterback keeper for a touchdown and successful two-point conversion pass made the difference as the #24 North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the visiting Duke Blue Devils in 2OT on Saturday night at Kenan Stadium. The Blue Devils had a chance to tie the game after Grayson Loftis hit Jordan Moore for a touchdown in the overtime period, but the two-point conversion pass was overthrown, and the Tar Heels faithful rushed the field in celebration of a big win over their rivals from Durham.

How it Happened:

The game kicked off with the North Carolina Tar Heels taking an early lead in the first quarter, with Drake Maye rushing for a touchdown and Noah Burnette adding a field goal. The Tar Heels continued their momentum into the second quarter with another field goal from Burnette. However, the Duke Blue Devils responded with a touchdown pass from Grayson Loftis to Jordan Moore and a rushing touchdown from Loftis himself, taking a brief lead. The Tar Heels managed to regain the lead just before halftime with another field goal from Burnette.

In the second half, the Tar Heels extended their lead with another field goal from Burnette in the third quarter. The fourth quarter saw a back-and-forth battle, with the Blue Devils’ Jordan Waters rushing for two touchdowns and the Tar Heels’ Omarion Hampton and Bryson Nesbit each scoring a touchdown. The Tar Heels managed to tie the game at the end of regulation with a field goal from Burnette. In overtime, both teams scored a field goal in the first round. In the second round, the Tar Heels scored a touchdown thanks to a rush from Maye, but the Blue Devils could only manage a touchdown, giving the Tar Heels a 47-45 victory.

Offensive Showdown:

The offensive prowess of both teams was on full display, with the Tar Heels amassing 537 total yards compared to Duke’s 379. North Carolina’s quarterback, Drake Maye, played a pivotal role, completing 28 of 43 passes for 342 yards and one touchdown. Maye also demonstrated his versatility with two rushing touchdowns, contributing significantly to the Tar Heels’ offensive strategy.

Maye’s favorite targets included Devontez Walker, who racked up an impressive 162 receiving yards, and Bryson Nesbit, who secured a touchdown with a 15-yard reception. On the rushing front, Omarion Hampton led the Tar Heels with 169 yards and a crucial touchdown, showcasing the team’s multifaceted offensive approach.

Duke’s Grayson Loftis answered with a solid performance, completing 16 of 28 passes for 189 yards and three touchdowns. Jordan Moore was Loftis’s go-to receiver, notching three touchdown receptions and accumulating 88 receiving yards. Jordan Waters contributed significantly on the ground for Duke with two rushing touchdowns.

Defensive Struggles and Triumphs:

While the game was marked by offensive fireworks, both teams faced challenges on the defensive end. North Carolina’s Cedric Gray and Don Chapman made significant impacts, with Chapman registering a sack and Gray contributing 11 total tackles. The Tar Heels’ defense managed three sacks and six tackles for loss, disrupting Duke’s offensive rhythm at crucial moments.

Duke’s Tre Freeman led the defensive efforts with 14 total tackles, a sack, and 1.5 tackles for loss. Despite the defensive challenges, the Blue Devils’ Chandler Rivers made a critical interception, giving the ball back to the Blue Devils in the red zone and leading to Duke’s second touchdown.

The Takeaway:

North Carolina’s hopes of making the ACC title game are still alive with this win. The Tar Heels (8-2, 4-2) are a game behind Louisville with two weeks left to go in the regular season, but the road to Charlotte will be difficult with road matchups against Clemson and NC State left on the docket. Duke (6-4, 3-3) stays on the road next week at Virginia before returning home to face Pitt in the regular season finale.