DeVon Edwards

Duke holds off No. 22 Georgia Tech for early ACC Coastal edge

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The end result may have become a bit tighter than David Cutcliffe would have preferred given the way things started, but he will surely take it. Duke (3-1, 1-0 ACC) scored a nice win in the inclement weather in Durham Saturday afternoon, holding off No. 22 Georgia Tech for a 34-20 victory. Safety Jeremy Cash came through with the big play by breaking through the line of scrimmage and coming from behind Georgia Tech quarterback Justin Thomas to knock the ball loose. Duke recovered the fumble with just over two minutes to play, and Shaquille Powell broke up the middle for a 30-yard touchdown to put the cherry on top of a division win.

Both teams entered this game coming off a loss. Georgia Tech lost last week at Notre Dame, while Duke lost at home against Northwestern. While the weather may not have cooperated early on, the Blue Devils came out on a mission to get back in the win column. Duke scored 19 points in the first quarter to build a good early lead, and the offense had answers for Georgia Tech’s attempts at a rally in the second half.

After Georgia Tech kicked a field goal in the third quarter, DeVon Edwards returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. The Yellow Jackets would keep chipping away in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Justin Thomas ran in for a 12-yard touchdown to cut the Duke lead to 26-20 after the PAT. Georgia Tech got the ball once more with a little over three minutes to play, but Cash’s forced fumble was the set-up to the knockout blow by Powell’s touchdown run.

The big question now becomes whether or not either of these two has what it takes to be the team to beat in what could be a wide-open ACC Coastal Division? Judging by the way each played on Saturday in Durham, there is room for improvement on both teams. The two teams combined for five turnovers and neither offense had a great showing. Georgia Tech got 326 yards of offense, while Duke picked up 279 yards of offense.

Duke gets a chance to go 2-0 in ACC play next week when they host Boston College. Key game sin division play will come later in October with road games against Virginia Tech and UNC wrapped around a home game against Miami. Georgia Tech will host North Carolina next week, and a win would put them right back in the running. Going 0-2 in the division is not something that will be easy to rally from, even in this division.

Paul Hornung Award watch list led by 2013 finalist Myles Jack

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Watchlist season gets into its midseason-form this week with watch lists coming out on a daily basis. Monday got started with the release of the Paul Hornung Award watch list by the Louisville Sports Commission. A grand total of 47 players were named to the watch list for the Paul Hornung Award, which is awarded to the most versatile player in major college football and is named after Hornung, a Louisville native.

UCLA linebacker Myles Jack is the one finalist from last year’s award to appear on the watch list. In all, the list is composed of 22 seniors, 12 juniors and 13 sophomores from 43 different universities. Nebraska, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Duke each have two players listed on the watch list. The ACC and Big Ten lead the way with watch list players, with 10 each. The Pac-12 has seven players, the Big 12 has five and the SEC has just four players listed.

LSU wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was the 2013 Paul Hornung Award winner.

Here is the entire watch list fr the 2014 season:

Ameer Abdullah, Nebraska

Nelson Agholor, Southern California

Kenny Bell, Nebraska

V’Angelo Bentley, Illinois

Victor Bolden, Oregon State

Tyler Boyd, Pittsburgh

Shilique Calhoun, Michigan State

B.J. Catalon, TCU

Rashon Ceaser, Louisiana Monroe

Stacy Coley, Miami (FL)

James Conner, Pittsburgh

Pharoh Cooper, South Carolina

Jamison Crowder, Duke

Stefon Diggs, Maryland

Chris Dunkley, South Florida

DeVon Edwards, Duke

D.J. Foster, Arizona State

Charles Gaines, Louisville

Rannell Hall, Central Florida

Scott Harding, Hawaii

Justin Hardy, East Carolina

Akeem Hunt, Purdue

Myles Jack, UCLA

Christion Jones, Alabama

Jameon Lewis, Mississippi State

Tommylee Lewis, Northern Illinois

Tyler Lockett, Kansas State

T.J. Logan, North Carolina

Venric Mark, Northwestern

Kevonte Martin-Manley, Iowa

J.D. McKissic, Arkansas State

Ty Montgomery, Stanford

Khalfani Muhammad, California

Marcus Murphy, Missouri

Jamarcus Nelson, UAB

Levi Norwood, Baylor

Ryan Switzer, North Carolina

Shaq Thompson, Washington

Antonio Vaughan, Old Dominion

Levonte “Kermit” Whitfield, Florida State

Carlos Wiggins, New Mexico

Kenny Williams, Texas Tech

Shane Williams-Rhodes, Boise St.

Myles Willis, Boston College

Dontre Wilson, Ohio State

Aaron Wimberly, Iowa St.

Shane Wynn, Indiana

The watch lists for the Bednarik Award and Maxwell Award will also be released today.

Duke holds on vs UNC, clinches ACC Coastal

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Duke’s (10-2, 6-2 ACC) defensive MVP DeVon Edwards intercepted a pass by North Carolina (6-6, 4-4 ACC) quarterback Marquise Williams to lock up the ACC Coastal Division and a trip to the ACC Championship Game. The interception by Edwards sealed a hard-fought 27-25 victory by the Blue Devils, setting a school record with 10 wins in a single season in the process.

The two Tobacco Road rivals went back and forth all game long, and the fourth quarter was no exception. Leading 24-22, Duke saw their lead slip away midway through the fourth quarter when Thomas Moore kicked a 37-yard field goal to give the home Tar Heels a narrow 25-24 lead. Duke answered with Ross Martin capping a 11-play drive with a 27-yard field goal for the 27-25 lead with 2:22 to play. North Carolina made it interesting by moving the ball just across midfield but Edwards came up with the big defensive play at the Duke 29-yard line with 13 seconds to play. Both of North Carolina’s turnovers came in the second half of the game, with the first coming in the first 30 seconds of the half.

Duke will play in next weekend’s ACC Championship Game in Charlotte, where they will face Florida State, who could be one step away from playing for a BCS Championship. Florida State won last year’s ACC Championship Game against Georgia Tech.

North Carolina’s season is not over yet though. The Tar Heels ended the regular season with a 6-6 record which makes them eligible for a postseason bowl game.

Duke having a Devil of a time with UNC, but leads at half

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A Duke win today will wrap up the ACC Coastal Division and send the Blue Devils to their first ACC Championship Game in program history. It is not going to be easy picking it up on the road at North Carolina if the first half was any indication. Duke leads the Tar Heels 17-15 after a back-and-forth first half.

Duke opened the second quarter with a 17-play drive but was held to just a field goal for the first time all season in a first and goal situation. That field goal gave Duke their first lead of the day, after North Carolina and Duke had traded touchdown drives in the first quarter. The Tar Heels responded by capping a nine-play drive with a Marquise Williams push up the middle on the goal line to regain the lead. North Carolina then completed a two-point conversion for a 15-10 lead. Duke’s special teams hero DeVon Edwards returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown to give Duke the lead right back, 17-10.

Not only is Duke playing for the right to play in the ACC Championship Game, but the Blue Devils are also looking to record the first 10-win season in program history. North Carolina is also playing for a winning season. The Tar Heels would be on the outside of any of the ACC Coastal Division tie breakers but could claim a share of the division championship with a win. A North Carolina win would set up a four-team tie for the division, and a five-way tie if both UNC and Virginia Tech win today.