Perhaps it was poetic that a program that had seen so much heartbreak over the years on the toe of opposing kickers ended up with the Blue Devil clinching their first ever ACC Coastal Division title.
Ross Martin kicked a 27-yard field goal with 2:22 that put Duke up 27-25. However, as it has often this year, it came down to the Blue Devils defense putting together one more stop to seal the deal. They delivered with a DeVon Edwards intercepted a Marquise Williams pass with just seconds remaining on the clock.
In perhaps the biggest game in the modern history of Duke Football, the Blue Devils brought all the drama fitting a championship team and for the first time since 1989 they are just that.
“I’m very proud of our players. I’m thankful to our players. You can’t help but to be thankful doing exactly what you ask them to do as well as they can possibly do it,” head coach David Cutcliffe said. “That’s our one team rule. That means on the practice field, the classroom, socially and I have never been around a group of young men that have done that better. That made them champions.”
The Blue Devils seemingly dominated the game statistically heading into half-time and while the final stats were very close, Duke just made enough plays.
Having a similar set up as last year where Duke saw a somewhat comfortable lead dissolve into a one-point deficit, it took another game-winning drive to close out the victory and keep the Victory Bell in Durham.
Anthony Boone lead the way completing 23 of 34 passing for 274 yards and two touchdowns both to Jamison Crowder. Crowder finished the game with five catches for 54 yards and the two scores.
North Carolina was able to grind out the vaunted Duke defense late in the second half and took the lead on a Thomas Moore 37-yard field goal with 7:03 left. However, much like last year and pretty much all this year, Duke answered the bell and Boone led 11-play 66 yard drive that led up to Martin’s first game-winning field goal ever.
As time ticked out Duke players and fans crowded into the endzone chanting “Let’s Go Duke,” why David Cutcliffe was carried triumphantly off the field. An emotional Cutcliffe talked to the media about what his players have accomplished and what it means to go play in the ACC Championship game.
“We’ve got some better players that people might think. Some good athletes, good speed, good ball skills. We a have a lot of weapons. But all that said the reason they are coastal division champs is who they are,” Cutcliffe said.
“The beauty of what this team is right now regardless of what the results would have been today, they still would be who they are. Don’t get so caught up in the results in your life that you start doubting who you are. Got a big football game in Charlotte. We are honored to represent the Coastal Division. Got a lot of good football teams int he coastal division and we are very honored to be the representative in Charlotte.”
Cutcliffe also had a message for the Duke fans.
“And I’m expecting to see thousands upon thousands of Duke fans in Charlotte.”