Saturday, October 20, 2012

Duke posts 20-6 lead on UNC at half

DURHAM — Duke is one half away from becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 1994 – and one half away from breaking an eight-game losing streak against North Carolina.

Behind a strong running game, the Blue Devils hold an 20-6 halftime lead against the Tar Heels here at Wallace Wade Stadium. UNC hasn’t allowed more than 183 yards rushing this season. Duke, though, is on its way to eclipsing that total.

The Blue Devils gained 119 yards rushing in the first half. Freshman running back Jela Duncan leads the team with 46 rushing yards on nine carries, one of which went for a 2-yard touchdown that gave Duke a 20-6 lead a few minutes before halftime.

The Devils have also received a strong performance from Josh Snead, who is averaging 7.8 yards per carry on his five carries.

Penalties have hurt the Tar Heels in recent weeks and an early one played a large role in Duke’s first half success. Blue Devils quarterback Sean Renfree threw a pass on the Devils’ first drive that was deflected and later intercepted by UNC safety Darien Rankin. But a roughing the passer penalty on linebacker Kevin Reddick negated the turnover.

Duke took advantage of the second chance, and used it to drive down the field with relative ease. Anthony Boone, the backup quarterback, entered the game and scored on a 2-yard touchdown run that gave the Blue Devils a 7-3 lead.

The Blue Devils been inside the UNC 20-yard line five times, and they’ve scored two touchdowns. The Tar Heels, meanwhile, settled for field goals after both of their trips inside the Duke 20.

Outside of a strong first half from running back Giovani Bernard, who gained 81 yards on 11 carries, the Heels’ offense has been stagnant. Bryn Renner, the UNC quarterback, has completed 8 of his 13 passes for 28 yards. He left the game for two plays on UNC’s first drive after sustaining a blow when he scrambled to avoid pressure.

Duke has outgained UNC 257 yards to 152. Renfree in the first half completed 10 of his 14 attempts for 138 yards, but threw an interception that ended one of his team’s trips to the red zone.

Andrew Carter: 919-829-8944