UNC Football: Carolina loses shootout versus Georgia Tech

If you told me that UNC Football was to score 50 points against their opponent on Saturday I would certainly believe that it would be in a winning effort, after all I did predict the game to be 35 to 24 in my preview. However, the reality was another yesterday at Kenan Stadium, as Georgia Tech (5 & 5 ~ 4-3 in the ACC) defeated North Carolina (6 & 4 ~ 3-3 in the ACC) by the final of 68 to 50, increasing its winning streak to four against the Heels. This was a game where defense seemed to be an option for the most part, but more so for the Heels than the Yellow Jackets. To note, sixty-eight points is the most ever allowed at home by UNC. This is also the third time this season that head coach Larry Fedora’s squad scored fifty points in a game, however in the two prior times it was a win for the Tar Heels.

All in all in this game the Carolina defense forced a total of two punts. Yes, I did not typo that, not a mistake, only twice was the Tar Heels defense able to make the Yellow Jackets give up the ball, with one of those being when the game was over and done. For those keeping record, the first punt was forced in the first quarter, meaning that for most of the game Georgia Tech’s offense just did as they pleased in this game. While both the offense and the special teams had their errors in this game, let’s not make any mistakes here, this loss lays squarely on the defense, which with the exception of sophomore corner back Tim Scott’s pick six, was non existent on Saturday. I have to admit I can not wait to see how many questions will be asked of the first year coach about what went wrong on that side of the ball, especially after having an extra week to prepare for the triple option.

On special team UNC gave up a 100 yard kickoff return as well as trying a fake punt way too close to their end zone that just looked bad from the get go and ended even worst. On offense quarterback Bryn Renner had a good day, going 24 for 35 for 350 yds with 2 TDs and a INT, as well as fumbling the ball on a pitch in the red zone. However both turnovers resulted in GT’s touchdowns. For those keeping score that is at least a 17 points turn around in the game. Running back Giovani Bernard had 170 yards altogether, 78 on the ground (bringing him over 1,000 for the season) as well as a TD and 92 through the air with a TD, but he could not do anything on the special teams, since the D was not able to stop the Yellow Jackets all game. With the pair of touchdowns the tailback becomes the seventh ever Heel to have at least 30 scores while donning the carolina blue.

Both Romar Morris and A.J. Blue combined for nine carries and 65 more yards, with the first getting a score and the latter two. While in all Renner hit a total of six team mates, five at least twice in the game. Freshman wide out Quinshad Davis was the main target for the quarterback, with seven receptions for 104 yds and a TD. Both the catches and the yards by the young man are career highs for him.

In a game where there was an ACC record of 118 points, 1,085 yards between the teams, 51 first downs and 497 kickoff return yards, you know that it would be a shoot out, but when you see that Georgia Tech held the ball 14 and a 1/2 minutes more than North Carolina (37:14 to 22:46), you knew that this was not going to be a W for the Heels.

When you break down this game, when it comes to all things unrelated to the defense there were the four above mentioned errors that truly decimated North Carolina. But of course, had the D just been able to play close to decent the Tar Heels might just been able to overcome some of the mistakes. However, simply put, the way the defense played they just could not.

In the end, this Carolina team has two games left, next week at Virginia and then the final game of the season back in Kenan versus Maryland. Both of these teams are 4 and 6 on the season and both hold a 2 and 4 conference record. Which means that UNC should be able to beat both of them, but they will do so only if they forget about the shallacking that just happened in Kenan and look forward on finishing the season on a positive note. Even worst than the bad game that the Heels had would be to turn one bad game into a pair of them by not letting go of the loss.

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