6:30 PM ET, December 27, 2012
Bank of America, CHARLOTTE, NC
6:30 PM ET, December 27, 2012
Bank of America, CHARLOTTE, NC
That made Thursday night's Belk Bowl victory all the more rewarding.
Duke running back Josh Snead fumbled at the Cincinnati 5 with 1:20 left and Kay threw an 83-yard touchdown pass to tight end Travis Kelce with 44 seconds to go, lifting the Bearcats to an improbable 48-34 win over the Blue Devils.
The Bearcats won without former head coach Butch Jones and both coordinators who helped guided them to the postseason.
Kay, who set a Belk Bowl record with four touchdown passes and was named the game's MVP, called it a "huge win."
"It's really been chaos for the last month ... pure chaos," Kay said. "We've played it off as it hasn't been but it was pure chaos from the time we found out (Jones) he was leaving."
Almost as chaotic as their latest win.
With the score tied at 34 and Duke driving for a go-ahead score, Snead fumbled and Kay capitalized with his go-ahead scoring pass to Kelce. Nick Temple capped the wild finish with a 55-yard interception return with 14 seconds left.
"We were figuring we might get one more shot as an offense and when we got the fumble we looked at each other and said we've worked way too hard to quit now," Kay said.
Kay quickly took advantage of the change in momentum after the Snead fumble, finding Kelce down the middle on a seam route. Kelce got behind the Duke defense and caught the ball in stride, racing the final 60 yards to the end zone as Blue Devils fans looked on in stunned silence.
It was a play called Left Texas 60, Y Go Burst, with three receivers running seam routes.
"I threw the ball and I was just hoping he would turn and look," Kay said. "He wasn't looking until the last second and it worked out great."
"I felt like a point guard dishing out the ball," Kay said. "The guys were making plays."
Cincinnati (10-3) finished with its fifth 10-win season in six years.
"That was one of our goals," said Bearcats interim coach Steve Stripling.
Duke quarterback Sean Renfree threw for 358 yards -- another Belk Bowl record -- for the Blue Devils (6-7), who were seeking their first bowl win since 1961. Conner Vernon, the ACC's all-time leader in receptions and receiving yards, had 190 catches for 119 yards and a touchdown in his final game for the Blue Devils.
But the big play for Duke was Snead's fumble.
"It's heartbreaking because we wanted to win this game for our seniors," Snead said. "But as a team, we're going to learn from this and build off the momentum from this. I've got great teammates. They encouraged me to keep my head up. If you have a little adversity, you've got to face it."
Duke coach David Cutcliffe said the loss was tough to swallow.
"This feeling in our guts is not very good right now," Cutcliffe said. "But we're going to move forward with this. The biggest insult we can give our seniors is to not move forward from this and we will do this."
Duke, which came in having allowed 51 points and an average of 294.5 yards rushing over its previous four games, struggled to stop Cincinnati after the first quarter.
The Bearcats piled up 554 total yards of offense, including 130 yards on the ground by Winn. Duke wasn't too shabby on offense, either, combining with the Bearcats for a Belk Bowl-record 1,114 yards.
Cincinnati trailed 16-0 before rattling off 27 straight points to seemingly take control, and the big turning point came courtesy of linebacker Greg Blair.
With Duke leading 16-3 and looking for more, Renfree fired a pass over the middle for running back Jela Duncan, who lunged for the goal line but was hit by Blair and fumbled. Blair recovered and suddenly the Bearcats had a shot.
"That seemed to fire us up on the sidelines," Blair said. "It gave us some life."
A short time later, Kay connected with McClung to cut the Duke lead to 16-10. Kay's second scoring pass to Abernathy capped a 98-yard drive in the final two minutes of the first half and gave the Bearcats their first lead.
NOTES:Duke punter Will Monday set a Belk Bowl record with a 79-yard punt. ... The two teams set a combined record for most first downs in the Belk Bowl.
It was over when... Brendon Kay hit Travis Kelce for the longest TD in Belk Bowl history, 83 yards, as the tight end went untouched for the deciding score with 44 seconds remaining.
Gameball goes to... Cincinnati had a number of offensive players who put up huge numbers, but Kay passed for 332 yards with four touchdowns and rushed for 76 yards on 10 carries.
Stat of the game... 4. Duke turned the ball over four times, including twice in the red zone. Cincinnati never turned it over, giving the Bearcats just enough despite being outgained 560-554 yards.
|3rd Down Conversions||3-10||7-13|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-2|
|TD||11:48||Brandon Connette 5 Yd Run (Pat Blocked)||0||6|
|FG||06:12||Ross Martin 33 Yd||0||9|
|TD||04:45||Tony Foster 0 Yd Return Of Blocked Punt (Ross Martin Kick)||0||16|
|FG||01:43||Tony Miliano 45 Yd||3||16|
|TD||04:02||Anthony McClung 25 Yd Pass From Brendon Kay (Tony Miliano Kick)||10||16|
|TD||00:42||Ralph Abernathy 41 Yd Pass From Brendon Kay (Tony Miliano Kick)||17||16|
|FG||10:02||Tony Miliano 27 Yd||20||16|
|TD||07:41||George Winn 46 Yd Run (Tony Miliano Kick)||27||16|
|TD||03:00||Conner Vernon 10 Yd Pass From Sean Renfree (Sean Renfree Pass To Issac Blakeney For Two-Point Conversion)||27||24|
|TD||12:45||David Reeves 2 Yd Pass From Brandon Connette (Ross Martin Kick)||27||31|
|TD||11:19||Chris Moore 25 Yd Pass From Brendon Kay (Tony Miliano Kick)||34||31|
|FG||07:24||Ross Martin 52 Yd||34||34|
|TD||00:44||Travis Kelce 83 Yd Pass From Brendon Kay (Tony Miliano Kick)||41||34|
|TD||00:14||Nick Temple 55 Yd Interception Return (Tony Miliano Kick)||48||34|
Since the Blue Devils won the 1961 Cotton Bowl, it's been a long slog for the football team. In the last 52 seasons, Duke football has fewer bowl appearances than Duke basketball has national championships.[+]
Duke Sports Since 1961 Cotton Bowl
Duke gave up nine offensive plays of at least 25 yards in its loss to Cincinnati, including the game-winning 83-yard touchdown pass with 44 seconds left. The Blue Devils are the only FBS team to allow nine-or-more 25-yard plays in multiple games this season. They also allowed nine such plays against Clemson. Including this game, Duke has allowed 66 plays of 25-plus yards this season. No other team in FBS has allowed more than 52 such plays.
Duke tied the game at 34-34 on a 52-yard field goal by Ross Martin. It was his second field goal of 50-plus yards this season. He's the fifth kicker in Duke history with multiple 50-yard field goals in a season.
Duke came into today's game allowing an FBS-high 57 plays of 25+ yards this season. After not allowing any such plays in the first quarter, the Bearcats had four plays of 25+ yards on their way to two second-quarter touchdowns.
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