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11/30/2013 5:26 PM EST
No. 24 Duke beats North Carolina 27-25
DUKE 27, NORTH CAROLINA 25

By AARON BEARD
AP Sports Writer

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Duke coach David Cutcliffe and his
players talked openly all season about winning a division title
and earning a spot in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship
game.

On Saturday, the No. 24 Blue Devils made the once-thinkable goal
a reality - complete with Cutcliffe being carried off the field
as his players celebrated with Duke fans in their rival's
stadium.

Ross Martin kicked a 27-yard field goal with 2:22 left for a
27-25 win at North Carolina, clinching the Coastal Division
championship with the Blue Devils' eighth straight victory. Duke
faces No. 2 Florida State in next weekend's ACC title game in
Charlotte, where the heavy underdog Blue Devils will go for
their first league crown since 1989.

"It's easy to look forward to next week," left guard Dave
Harding said, "but right now I think it's OK to kind of revel in
what we've just done."

Anthony Boone threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns to Jamison
Crowder for the Blue Devils (10-2, 6-2 ACC), who also secured
the long-suffering program's first 10-win season. DeVon Edwards
returned a kickoff for a 99-yard touchdown and had the
game-sealing interception with 13 seconds left to turn away the
Tar Heels (6-6, 4-4).

That play started the celebration on the Duke sideline. Minutes
after Boone's kneel down closed it out, defensive linemen Sydney
Sarmiento and Justin Foxx had hoisted Cutcliffe on their
shoulders, giving the sixth-year coach a great view of his Blue
Devils mingling with celebrating fans in a corner of UNC's Kenan
Stadium.

"It was pretty special, a great moment," Cutcliffe said. "I
don't mind these Gatorade baths. Our equipment people have to
kind of figure out how to launder all that stuff I'm wearing."

Cutcliffe inherited a program that had gone 2-33 in the three
seasons before his arrival and hadn't had a winning record or
reached a bowl since 1994.

He got the Blue Devils back to a bowl last year. Now his Blue
Devils - eligible for a bowl in consecutive seasons for the
first time - are going for more.

"He's the first one to really come here when the team was in the
dumps and say, `I'm going to change this program around,"' Boone
said of Cutcliffe. "And people were laughing at him. It all goes
back to him."

Marquise Williams ran for two scores and threw for another for
UNC, which had won five straight to dig out of a 1-5 start and
become bowl eligible. But the Tar Heels fell short on their
final drive with the chance to spoil Duke's title hopes.

Williams got them to midfield, breaking free from a collapsing
pocket for a 10-yard run on fourth down. But Duke didn't let the
Tar Heels get within Thomas Moore's field goal range, pressuring
Williams as he threw a ball that sailed into Edwards' waiting
arms.

"I was trying to make a play, but I got hit as I was throwing
the ball," Williams said.

"Give them credit," he added. "They did what they had to do."

Duke beat its rival on Crowder's last-second touchdown catch in
Durham last season and has claimed the Victory Bell that goes to
the winner in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1989.

UNC tight end Eric Ebron had five catches for 121 yards in his
final home game. That helped the junior - who said Monday he
would enter the NFL draft after the season - set the ACC's
single-season record for yards receiving by a tight end with
895, passing Maryland's Vernon Davis.

Duke led 17-15 at halftime after Edwards' long kickoff return,
which snatched back momentum after Williams scored on a 1-yard
bootleg 11 seconds earlier. Duke pushed that lead to 24-15 on
Crowder's 7-yard TD catch in the back of the end zone, only to
see Williams find Quinshad Davis for a 23-yard score to make it
a one-possession game.

The Tar Heels certainly will be left with memories of a few late
plays that let this one get away.

Among the biggest: Starting center Russell Bodine picked up an
unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for shoving a Duke player after
a play when the Tar Heels had reached the 9-yard line, pushing
them back 15 yards and ultimately forcing them to settle for
Moore's 37-yard field goal with 7:03 left.

That put UNC up only 25-24. And after UNC's Tre Boston dropped
an interception from Boone, Martin's kick sent the Blue Devils
on to Charlotte.

"We didn't play well enough to win a football game," coach Larry
Fedora said. "There's a lot of things you can look at in this
game that we didn't do and we didn't accomplish."

---

Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at
http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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