Collector’s Corner: 1990 Duke Game Was One To Remember


Follow us on Twitter @NN_Keepinitheel

Like us on Facebook

*If you are responding to the ad in the Daily Tar Heel  or Craigslist for staff writers you have come to the right place.  Click HERE for details. 

In this feature of collector’s corner Scott checks in with with his account of UNC vs Duke 1990.  For the rest of the collector’s corner series click HERE

Looking back on it all, 1990 was the season that my collection kind of took off.  In 1990, UNC had just 4 road games:  South Carolina, Clemson, Wake Forest, and Duke.  With such a cost-friendly line up, my buddies and I decided that this would be the first season we would actually attend every game the Heels played.  I planned to mark the feat by saving each game program and ticket stub.  A rescheduled high school football game cost me that opportunity when I missed our last home game versus Virginia (my grandfather got that program for me), but that didn’t stop me from travelling to Durham for the finale. With what has happened in the series since that November 17th Saturday, I feel I should let some of our younger readers know what the Carolina-Duke world was like back then.  Coming into 1990, Duke had won three in a row against UNC.  Those were, of course, the Spurrier years at Duke, and he had no more of an infamous moment there than the ’89 scoreboard photo following their 41-0 humiliation of Carolina at Chapel Hill in Mack Brown’s second year.

At that time, UNC listed the series record as 38-34-4.  The Duke program that day showed Carolina with a 37-35-4 edge.   Believe it or not, the two still dispute a Spring 1889 game that was never played.  Each claims that the other forfeited, thus the discrepancy.  Regardless of the overall record, there was no denying that Duke had held “our” bell for three years. That day got off to a bit of an odd start for me.  When my crew assembled, the friend who had purchased the tickets passed them out.  I suspected a problem when I looked at mine and read, “Cameron Indoor Stadium Event 2” on it.  Somehow he had ended up with tickets to that day’s Duke-U.S.S.R. basketball scrimmage.  Even though I was undecided as to who I hoped won that contest, I knew I had no desire to see it.  Thankfully the ticket office exchanged them for us.

Then again, the announced attendance at the football game was just 31,600, so I guess they were happy to have ANYONE there. The game itself got off to a wonderful UNC start.  Freshman Natrone Means ripped of a 76-yard scoring run on UNC’s first play.  The then future-San Diego Charger capped UNC’s scoring early in the fourth quarter with a 1-yard run to put Carolina up 24-14.  Means, who wound up with 256 yards on a whopping 37 carries, would have totaled 300 yards that day if a 50-yard TD run had not been called back in the third quarter (UNC turned the ball over two plays later). Duke scored with 48 seconds left to make the final score 24-22. Junior tight end Deems May sealed the victory be recovering Duke’s onside kick.  One of the now-forgotten heroes of that day was punter Scott McAlister. The junior booted the ball nine times for a 45.7 yard average.  He had kicks of 41, 51, and 62 yards in the third quarter alone.  Wouldn’t we love to have Scott out there these days? As the clock dropped to all zeroes, my then-20-something friends and I jumped over the wall that these days seems mountainously high at Wallace Wade Stadium.  We ran about, shouting and high-fiving anyone we could find. Then we saw the group of players who were dragging the Victory Bell back to the side of the field where it belongs.  All the players were ringing it with joy, and we each took a turn as well.

Then, some of the players began to try to tear off the Duke football helmet stickers that were on the bell.  If I remember correctly, Deems finally succeeded in removing one and ran off in celebration.  A friend and I started on the other.  I ended up with the “D” and he got the “uke.”  As you can see, I still proudly own my treasure to this day. Little did any of us know what had begun that day.  Of course, we all still hate Spurrier (even though he was at Florida in ’90).  Nothing will ever change that.  But who’d have ever thought that 1990 was the beginning of a 20-1 run against Duke in the series?  I know 22-year-old me never did.  At the time, I was ecstatic to have just that one.

Follow @NN_Keepinitheel
Follow us on Facebook