The Blue Devils snapped a two-game losing streak to North Carolina, and have won three of the last five meetings of the 103 the two Tobacco Road rivals have played.
North Carolina fell to 7-3 overall and 5-2 in the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) while Duke earned its first league win to move to 4-6 overall, and 1-5 in conference play.
The loss ended Carolina’s nine-game road win streak as the Tar Heels entered the game with the nation’s third-longest active road win streak behind only Alabama and Oklahoma.
Being Duke’s Senior Day game, the contest was the quintessential rivalry game as 39,212 fans from both sides screamed from the opening kickoff until the final whistle as the lead changed back and forth throughout.
“I’m so thrilled for our seniors,” Duke head coach David Cutcliffe said.
“The memory of your last home game is vivid and it lasts forever.”
Highlights: Duke 28, #15 UNC 27 (ACC Digital Network – TheACC.com)
Duke redshirt freshman quarterback Daniel Jones threw for 240 yards, rushed for 94, and was responsible for three touchdowns – two off the rush and one in the air.
In addition to Jones, wide receiver T.J. Rahming finished with a team-high 100 yards, while running back Shaun Wilson rushed for 107 yards and kept the Duke offense churning for a full 60 minutes.
Redshirt freshman linebacker Joe Giles-Harris tallied a team-high and personal-best 16 tackles, and along with sophomore linebacker Ben Humphreys who claimed 11 tackles, kept North Carolina sophomore quarterback Mitch Trubisky in check, particularly during the second half.
“My hat’s off to David Cutcliffe and his football team,” North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora said.
“They played a heck of a football game. We got outcoached, and we got outplayed and that’s my own responsibility.”
Trubisky connected on 24 of 33 pass attempts for 297 yards and three touchdowns which came in the half.
Bug Howard had a 19-yard touchdown catch in the first half that opened the game’s scoring.
Tar Heels tailbacks T.J. Logan (166 all-purpose yards) and Elijah Hood (5 catches, 58 yards/13 carries, 75 yards) made significant contributions to move the chains, but were unable to post points on the board.
UNC led 14-0 after the first quarter of play before Duke evened it up with touchdowns from Jones and Wilson.
Jones matched a touchdown from North Carolina’s Carl Tucker and both teams went into the halftime break tied at 21 points apiece.
“He is an outstanding player, a fierce competitor,” Cutcliffe added when talking of his young quarterback.
Duke held North Carolina to 142 yards in the second half, 31 in the fourth quarter alone.
Two field goals in the third from Tar Heels placekicker Nick Weiler kept the score close, but eventually weren’t enough.
After Weiler put UNC ahead 24-21, Jone’s two-yard jump pass to tight end Davis Koppenhaver gave the Blue Devils a four-point advantage with 2:10 remaining in the third.
Weiler pulled the Tar Heels to within one, trailing 28-27 heading into the final period.
Neither team scored for the final 15 minutes as Duke’s defense completed the task of securing the win.
Trubisky’s second interception of the game pulled in by Duke’s Alonzo Saxton II ended North Carolina’s final push with 49 seconds remaining.
“This was my last time playing in Wallace Wade,” Duke senior tackle A.J. Wolf said.
“In terms of emotion, after that interception, I slowly walked off the field and started tearing up. This was a dream come true to go out in our home stadium like that.”