Saturday, November 3, 2018

UNC Comeback Bid Falls Short, Tar Heels Eliminated From Bowl Contention

CHAPEL HILL – The North Carolina Tar Heels were 1-6 going into Saturday's Homecoming game against Coastal division rival Georgia Tech. Rallying from eighteen points down in the third quarter to tie the game in the final quarter, turnovers and an inability to slow down the vaunted Yellow Jacket triple option offense ultimately proved too much for the Tar Heels as they fell 38-28 on a chilly afternoon at Kenan Stadium.

UNC Fell to Georgia Tech, 38-28, on Saturday

Things looked bright for the Tar Heels when the UNC defense took the field for the first time. Getting into the backfield, Malik Carney was able to strip the Georgia Tech ball carrier, pick up the ball and race twenty yards to the end zone, giving the Tar Heels an early 7-0 lead.

That good feeling wouldn't last long, though, as the Yellow Jacket offense went to work on the next drive, going seventy-five yards in five plays resulting in an eleven-yard Nathan Cottrell scoring run. This was the first of four rushing touchdowns on the day for Georgia Tech, who rumbled for 461 yards on the ground in the game.

Georgia Tech added two more scores in the second quarter, including a rare eighty-six-yard touchdown pass, to take a commanding 21-7 lead. Only a twenty-three-yard Freeman Jones field goal kept the Tar Heels offense from a scoreless first half.

The Yellow Jackets opened up the second half much like they played the first half. Starting on their own 25, the visitors marched seventy-five yards down the field in twelve plays and it looked bleak for the Tar Heels as Clinton Lynch dove towards the pylon, securing an eighteen-point lead.

North Carolina did not give up, though, and finally ground their groove offensively. Pinned deep after the kickoff, UNC moved quickly down the field and freshman Jace Ruder threw his first career touchdown pass to former Hough standout Carl Tucker to make it 28-17. The Tar Heel defense created the next opportunity for UNC, recovering a fumble and leading to another Jones field goal.

When the final quarter began, the visitors' lead had been cut to eight and they were facing a tough fourth down at midfield. Coach Paul Johnson rolled the dice and went for it, but the UNC defense stiffened up and stopped the Yellow Jackets for a loss. Five plays later, Antonio Williams hit pay dirt and after Anthony Ratliff-Williams reeled in the two-point conversion, it was knotted at 28.

When it looked like UNC was going to be able to take their first lead of the game, Georgia Tech's Tariq Carpenter picked off a pass near midfield, taking away the momentum the Tar Heels had built throughout their comeback. Nine plays and forty-one yards later, backup Yellow Jacket quarterback Tobias Oliver scored on a one-yard keeper. Another interception on the subsequent possession led to a short field goal which ultimately sealed the deal.

Next Week
UNC (1-7, 1-5) travels to Duke in an annual renewal of a longstanding Tobacco Road rivalry while Georgia Tech (5-4, 3-3) hosts Miami at Bobby Dodd Stadium.