CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP)Sam Howell threw for 321 yards and three touchdowns and North Carolina topped Duke 38-7 on Saturday, keeping hold of the coveted Victory Bell for a third straight year.
The Tar Heels (3-2, 2-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) jumped ahead with a pair of explosive plays in the first half.
Howell connected with running back Ty Chandler down the sideline for a 75-yard score to open the scoring. Less than two minutes later, Kevin Hester hit Duke’s Gunnar Holmberg as he was throwing, causing the ball to flutter out of his hand and Trey Morrison returned the fumble 63 yards for a touchdown.
Allowing the scoop-and-score epitomized a frustrating performance for Duke (3-2, 0-1 ACC). The Blue Devils punted nine times, turned the ball over twice and converted just 2 of 15 third downs.
Duke scored its lone points on an 80-yard catch-and-run by Jalon Calhoun in the third quarter. The loss snapped a three-game winning streak for the Blue Devils.
Duke: ACC leading rusher Mataeo Durant ran for 114 yards, but the Blue Devils were otherwise mostly ineffective offensively. Duke entered this game with one of the nation’s top scoring attacks – averaging 38.8 points per-game – but were stifled by a stingy UNC defense.
UNC: The Tar Heels can be successful on offense when their line protects Howell. UNC has allowed 22 sacks this season, the most in the ACC. But when Howell has the space to operate, he looks like the Heisman candidate he was hyped up as being in the preseason. Howell is now second in the ACC – and among the top 10 in the nation – in points-responsible for this season with 104.
Duke: The Blue Devils return to Durham next Saturday to host Georgia Tech.
UNC: The Tar Heels will look for another win in ACC play next Saturday, hosting struggling Florida State.
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