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Duke lost a chance to beat Louisville with a roughing-the-kicker penalty

This is an upsetting way to lose a shot at an upset.

No. 7 Louisville came uncomfortably close to losing a second game in a row. On Friday against Duke, the Cardinals let a 17-7 fourth-quarter lead become 17-14, and then kicker Evan O’Hara missed a 46-yard field goal with two minutes left. The Blue Devils were about to have the ball at their own 36-yard line, 64 yards from a winning score.

Except someone did something silly.

duke penalty

That's No. 31 for Duke, Breon Borders, trying to block a kick that went wide left anyway and instead rolling up onto O'Hara. Borders drew a flag for roughing the kicker, which carried an automatic first down and ended the game. Duke's chance to pull a titanic upset was effectively gone, and Lamar Jackson scored an insurance TD moments later.

Louisville won, 24-14.

It's a close call, and Duke might not like it. "Incidental contact" isn't classified as running into or roughing the kicker, but Borders certainly crashed into the kicker's legs and didn't make an obvious effort to steer clear after the ball had left O'Hara's foot. We could fairly call it questionable, but there's no question Borders could've been smarter about it.

The Cardinals didn’t look quite right all night, and Duke’s defense was brilliant. Jackson did his best, but he was regularly off balance and couldn’t torch the Blue Devils in the manner he’d torched everybody else, all year. The Cardinals almost paid for it, but a penalty that will haunt Borders for a long time denied Duke the chance to cash in.