Jamison Crowder had plenty of room to run on his 99-yard touchdown reception, the longest play from scrimmage in Duke history. Credit: CHUCK LIDDY
While Duke dropped its regular-season finale to Miami, wide receiver Jamison Crowder continued his breakout year with his best performance to date.
Crowder, a sophomore, caught eight passes for 203 yards and two touchdowns against the Hurricanes. One of those touchdowns was on a 99-yard pass play, as Sean Renfree found Crowder wide open at the 35-yard line, leaving Crowder to run the remaining 64 yards for the score. It was the longest play from scrimmage in Duke football’s 100-year history.
For Crowder, Saturday’s game marked another step in his emotional recovery from the July 4 jet ski accident that left teammate and friend Blair Holliday in a coma. Crowder walked away physically unharmed and took Holliday’s receiver position in Duke’s offense. I wrote about the recovery paths for both Crowder and Holliday for our Thanksgiving paper. Check out the story if you missed it.
Duke’s loss to Miami extended the currently losing streak to four games and gave the team a 6-6 record to end the regular season. But, six wins is all a team needs for a bowl berth, and Duke has the required number for the first time since 1994.
And that crucial sixth win was sealed by a last-second Crowder touchdown catch.
With the Blue Devils trailing 30-26, Crowder lined up on the 5-yard line on fourth-and-2 with 19 seconds remaining. He ran a five-yard route and made a leaping catch, holding onto the football despite getting hit in midair by two Tar Heels defenders.
The reactions of Blair and Leslie Holliday, his mother, are in the aforementioned story. One of the first people to get to Crowder on the sideline was Conner Vernon, Duke’s senior captain and the ACC’s all-time leading receiver.
“I told him when I grabbed him on the sideline that he became a man today,” Vernon said. “It’s his show now.”
Crowder and Vernon will have one more show together at Duke’s upcoming bowl.