Duke football: North Carolina demolishes Blue Devils on gridiron

Duke football quarterback Gunnar Holmberg alongside North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports)
Duke football quarterback Gunnar Holmberg alongside North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell (Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports) /

The Duke football program was throttled by the North Carolina Tar Heels once again. 

Over the last three seasons, the Duke football program has been outscored by the North Carolina Tar Heels 114-48.

All three games have been Tar Heel victories, and the last two games in the series between the two rivals have not been close.

Saturday’s installment of the Battle for the Victory Bell resulted in a 38-7 victory for Mack Brown and North Carolina. The Tar Heels needed a “get right game,” and that is what they got with the Blue Devils making the trip over from Durham.

The Heels had lost two of their first three ACC games this season and had only picked up victories against Georgia State and Virginia this season with losses to Virginia Tech and Georgia Tech on their resume.

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Many had projected the Tar Heels (3-2, 2-2 ACC) to not only be a top-tier team in the ACC but also to be a darkhorse candidate for the College Football Playoffs. But the season has quickly gone off the rails for those in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell, a projected top selection in the upcoming NFL Draft, made things look easy with 321 yards and three touchdowns on 18-of-32 passing.

Duke (3-2, 0-1 ACC) had no answer for wide receiver Josh Downs as he reeled in eight passes for 168 yards and one touchdown as North Carolina jumped out to a 24-0 lead at halftime and never looked back.

Blue Devil signal caller Gunnar Holmberg had two costly turnovers, one fumble which the Tar Heels returned for a touchdown to make the score 14-0 and another interception after Duke got the football back after trimming the Tar Heel lead back down to seven, 24-7.

Holmberg was 17-of-24 for 184 yards and a touchdown while running back Mataeo Durant continued his impressive season with 114 yards on 19 carries.

Duke football still has plenty of chances in front of them

After the horrid last two seasons for the Blue Devils, the main goal for Duke this season is to achieve bowl eligibility.

David Cutcliffe’s team needs to find three wins in its next seven games to reach the postseason once again. Now, the Blue Devils will return to Durham and prepare to host the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets on Saturday afternoon.

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Georgia Tech is in the midst of a strange opening month to its season. After the Yellow Jackets lost their opener to Northern Illinois, they picked up a win over Kennesaw State before playing No. 8 Clemson right down to the wire, losing 14-8.

A 45-22 win over North Carolina was the highlight victory of the early season for the Yellow Jackets before Georgia Tech was steamrolled at home by Pittsburgh this week, 52-21.

Kickoff between Duke and Georgia Tech is scheduled for 12:30pm EST inside Wallace Wade Stadium and can be seen on ESPN3 and Regional Sports Networks.

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