With a chance to spoil Duke's division-title hopes, North Carolina just couldn't come up with the key touchdown or the big defensive stop.
Instead, the Tar Heels will be left with memories of the plays that helped the game slip away in a 27-25 loss to the No. 24 Blue Devils. Two stood out in particular in the fourth quarter once Duke's Ross Martin kicked the go-ahead field goal with 2:22 left.
First, 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. That knocked them back 15 yards and ultimately forced them to settle for Thomas Moore's 37-yard field goal for a 25-24 lead with 7:03 left.
Then UNC's Tre Boston couldn't haul in an interception from Anthony Boone on the Blue Devils' drive for Martin's kick.
The Tar Heels also committed nine penalties for 85 yards and had two turnovers.
"Yeah, you could definitely sum it up with missed opportunities, personal fouls, dumb penalties," Boston said. "There's a lot of things you could say about this game."
For Duke, Boone threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns to Jamison Crowder, completing the Blue Devils' improbable run to reach the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game.
DeVon Edwards' interception with 13 seconds left helped clinch the Coastal Division championship with Duke's eighth straight victory. Duke will face No. 2 Florida State next weekend in Charlotte, where the heavy underdog Blue Devils will go for their first ACC crown since 1989.
Duke led 24-15 in the third quarter but needed to rally to beat the rival Tar Heels (6-6, 4-4).
Marquise Williams ran for two scores and threw for another for UNC, which had won five straight.
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.
Williams marched the Tar Heels to midfield on their final drive, breaking free from a collapsing pocket for a 10-yard run on fourth down to give UNC a shot. But Duke didn't let the Tar Heels get within Moore's field goal range, pressuring Williams as he threw a ball that sailed into Edwards' waiting arms.
The Blue Devils' sideline immediately started celebrating, though Duke needed Boone's final kneel down to close it out.
It was the latest big moment for Duke under sixth-year coach David Cutcliffe, who guided the Blue Devils to their first bowl game in 18 years last season. The Blue Devils are bowl eligible in consecutive seasons for the first time ever, though they certainly have a lot more to play for next week.
Duke, which beat UNC on Crowder's last-second touchdown catch in Durham last season, has defeated the Tar Heels in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1988-89. It was Duke's first win in Chapel Hill since 2003.
Edwards also had a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown for the Blue Devils, which came just before halftime after the Tar Heels had taken a 15-10 lead on Williams' 1-yard bootleg run for a score.