The Blue Devils were led by quarterback Sean Renfree's 358 yards passing on 37-49 attempts with a touchdown to Connor Vernon who led Duke in receiving with 10 receptions for 119 yards. Despite Renfree's efficiency with the football he threw two costly interceptions including a pick six on the final drive with a chance to tie for the Blue Devils.
Duke moved out to a quick start leading 16-3 at the end of the first quarter, but Cincinnati remained poised and fought back to lead 17-16 at the half. Cincinnati continued it's momentum in the third quarter to lead Duke 27-16 yet the Blue Devils struck back with back to back touchdowns to lead 31-27 just minutes into the fourth quarter. The Bearcats answered right back with a Brendan Key pass to Chris Moore for a 25 yard touchdown and 34-31 lead. Duke followed this up with a drive that ended in a field goal knotting the score at 34 a piece with just under eight minutes to go.
Duke orchestrated a drive that started with 5:46 seconds to play from its own 43 yard where Sean Renfree hit Connor Vernon on a 13 yard pass to set up 1st and goal from the eight yard line with less than two minutes to go in the game. Josh Snead gained three yards on first down setting up second and goal from five forcing Cincinnati to call a timeout. Snead who had an excellent game with 117 yards on the ground was hit by Brandon Mills forcing a fumble that Cincinnati recovered at the four yard line.
A tough break for the Blue Devils, Cincinnati still had to drive the length of the field for a go ahead field goal. After a pedestrian three plays where the Bearcats earned a 1st down Brendan Kay hit Travis Kelce for a 83 yard touchdown to put the Bearcats in front 41-34.
Duke with :44 to go had an opportunity after an ill advised personal foul penalty by Cincinnati Sean Renfree and the Blue devil offense had the ball at the Bearcat 40 yard line. I would like to tell you Renfree hit Connor Vernon to tie the game and end the Blue Devils bowl losing streak, but Renfree completed a pass to Bearcat Nick Temple who returned the interception for a touchdown completing Cincinnati's win 48-34.
The Blue Devils finished the year 6-7 overall with a 3-5 record in the ACC. This was the best year the Blue Devils have seen in eighteen years that included winning the Victory Bell Back from rival North Carolina.
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