CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - Giovani Bernard ran for 165 yards and a touchdown, and Dwight Jones caught three touchdowns to lead North Carolina past Duke 37-21 on Saturday afternoon at Kenan Stadium.
Bernard carried 30 times and caught four passes for 57 yards to account for 222 of North Carolina's 508 yards. Jones hauled in 10 passes for 101 yards and three touchdowns to lead North Carolina (7-5, 3-5 ACC).
Duke came within two points of tying the game with 3:56 remaining in the third quarter, but Renner and Jones hooked up for passing touchdowns of 18 yards and eight yards to put the game away.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Anthony Boone gave Duke a spark when he took over the offense in the second half, finishing with a career-high 111 yards passing and 41 yards rushing while leading an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive in the third quarter. He capped that drive with an 11-yard touchdown pass to senior Donovan Varner, who finished with eight receptions including the 200th of his career. Varner also went over the 60-catch mark for the season, becoming the first player in ACC history with three seasons of 60 catches.
All three of Duke's touchdowns came through the air as redshirt junior quarterback Sean Renfree threw scoring passes of 70 yards to running back Juwan Thompson and 45 yards to Jamison Crowder. Eight Duke players caught a pass, including junior Conner Vernon who hauled in three passes to get over the 70-catch mark for the season. He is the first player in ACC history to catch 70 passes in two different seasons.
Senior safety Matt Daniels registered a career-high 18 tackles for Duke (3-9, 1-7 ACC) and finishes his career with 324 tackles. It was his fifth double-digit tackle game of the season.
North Carolina struck first on a six-yard touchdown pass from Renner to Jones with 6:57 remaining in the first quarter. Bernard set up the scoring play with an 18-yard run to Duke's six-yard line on third-and-four.
Duke fired right back and tied the game on one play when Renfree hit Thompson on a 70-yard touchdown pass. Thompson swung out of the backfield and caught Renfree's deep ball on Duke's 45-yard line and raced down the sideline for the Blue Devils' longest play of the year.
North Carolina would go on to score 13 unanswered points, however, to stake a 20-7 lead. Back-to-back field goals of 31 and 46 yards by Thomas Moore put North Carolina ahead 13-7, and then Bernard pulled off a 48-yard touchdown run up the middle to extend the lead to 13 points.
Bernard's long run was the only blemish on the Duke defense for the entire second quarter as the Blue Devils got an interception by cornerback Ross Cockrell and forced three punts on North Carolina's next four possessions. Following Cockrell's interception with 9:11 remaining in the quarter, the Blue Devils held the Tar Heels to -5 yards and four yards on the next two drives.
While the North Carolina offense stalled, the Blue Devils trimmed the deficit to six points when Renfree and Crowder hooked up for a 45-yard touchdown pass with 1:22 remaining in the half. The touchdown was the first of Crowder's career and gave him over 1,000 all-purpose yards for the year, making him the fifth freshman in Duke history to reach that mark.
North Carolina defensive end Quinton Coples continued to carry the Tar Heel defense, forcing a fumble with a sack on Renfree to set up a 28-yard field goal that ran the lead to 23-14. Coples finished with two sacks, three tackles for loss, a quarterback hurry, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Duke answered with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Boone to Varner that cut the deficit to 23-21. Boone was handed the reins of the offense at the start of the drive, and he responded by leading an 11-play, 75-yard drive in which he threw for 33 yards, ran for 21 and caught a pass for 21 yards.
The Tar Heels countered with an 18-yard scoring strike from Renner to Jones that put them back on top by nine points at 30-21. Duke then drove down into North Carolina territory early in the fourth quarter, but safety Gene Robinson intercepted Boone's pass at his own nine-yard line to end the drive. The Tar Heels used that turnover to open a 12-play, 91-yard scoring drive that ended with Jones' third touchdown catch of the day.
Boone would take Duke down to the North Carolina one-yard line, but a false penalty backed the Blue Devils up to the six. From there, North Carolina kept Duke out of the end zone over the next four plays to force a turnover on downs.