Three Duke football players have earned ACC Player of the Week honors following the team’s 33-30 victory against North Carolina Saturday.
Redshirt senior quarterback Sean Renfree was named the ACC’s Offensive Back of the Week, redshirt junior tackle Perry Simmons earned ACC Offensive Lineman of the Week and freshman running back Jela Duncan was named the ACC’s Rookie of the Week. Duke was just one of two teams to have multiple players honored this week, matching N.C. State’s three selections.
Renfree’s selection came on the heels of Duke’s comeback victory against the Tar Heels. The signal caller completed 23-of-36 passes for 276 yards and one touchdown but was locked in on the Blue Devils’ final drive to send them to their first bowl appearance since 1994. Renfree led his team 87 yards in the game’s final 3:06, completing 8-of-11 passes for 78 yards, including the game-winning score to wide receiver Jamison Crowder. He connected with wide receiver Conner Vernon for two crucial third down conversions on the drive before finding Crowder in the end zone on a fourth down with 13 seconds remaining.
“Sean did a masterful job in managing protection, reading coverage and getting the ball to the right places,” Blue Devil head coach David Cutcliffe said. “The throw to Jamison was just an incredibly great throw.”
Simmons and the Duke offensive line protected Renfree and opened holes in the running game against a dangerous Tar Heel defensive front. Renfree was sacked just once in the contest and neutralized North Carolina’s rush defense, which was ranked third in the ACC entering play.
The result was a career day for the Blue Devils, who amassed 234 yards on the ground on 53 carries—the highest single-game rushing total in the Cutcliffe era. As a leader on an experienced offensive line, Simmons was on the field for all of Duke’s 89 offensive snaps.
Duncan was one of the many beneficiaries of Simmons’ superb effort, amassing 118 all-purpose yards in Saturday’s victory. He carried the ball a career-high 22 times for 74 yards, recorded three receptions for 12 yards, returned two kickoffs for 32 yards and scored the Blue Devils’ second touchdown of the game with a two-yard scamper in the second quarter. The touchdown was Duncan’s third score in Duke’s past four games. Duncan played a key role in the Blue Devils’ game-winning drive, catching a swing pass on third-and-6 from North Carolina’s 19-yard line and getting just enough yardage to keep the chains moving. Renfree threw the game’s decisive touchdown to Crowder just four plays later.