So far most of the UNC fan base is pretty happy with head coach Larry Fedora. The one asterisks could be that the second year head man has lost two times to Duke. Today, at Kenan Stadium, was the second time, as North Carolina (6 & 6 ~ 4-4 ACC) fell to #24 Duke (10 & 2 ~ 6-2 ACC) by the final of 27 to 25.
I know that this is basically beating a dead horse, but if we want to start with what went wrong in this one penalties make the list right away. In a game that was needed the Tar Heels had nine of them for 85 yards. The one that might have changed the whole game was the one on Russell Bodine, who turned a 3rd and short into a 3rd and 17 in the red zone, making what could have been a touchdown turn into a field goal. Other than that Carolina did not do itself any favor as it felt like each time they got the ball back after a Duke score the yellow hankie was thrown, putting the offense in worst starting position than they should have had.
Many times I have apologized on this blog due to the fact that I did not think sophomore quarterback Marquise Williams, who ran for a pair of scores and threw for another, could lead the Tar Heels. And while I am not changing my mind after this game, and believe he will be the man under center for years to come, the young man just did not have it today. Williams had two interceptions, including one with less than half a minute to go to end all chances for UNC, and way too many passes that just were not on the mark. If it was not three or four, it might have been more, where pretty open receivers were overthrown by the gunslinger.
In my preview I was right about junior tight end Eric Ebron, who I said would have the most yards (121 yds on 5 catches), and that sophomore Quinshad Davis would score (32 yds on 2 catches), but unfortunately Ryan Switzer did not find the endzone in this on (54 yds on 5 catches).
On the ground freshman T.J. Logan had a good day (92 yds on 16 carries) while Williams led all rushers (104 yds on 16 carries) and the previously mentioned two touchdowns.
Just like Williams, the UNC D did not have it’s best game of the second half of the season. Not until it was halfway through the third quarter, with the Tar Heels down by nine, did the defensive unit seem to make a good stand and get them back into it. However, senior safety Tre Boston (4 INTs) had an opportunity to close out Duke’s last scoring drive, when a ball hit him in the hands and he just dropped it. With the Blue Devils keeping the drive alive they were able to get a field goal and the lead.
All in all, it was a game that could have gone either way, and while that is no consolation, while there are no moral victories, as the old saying goes “it is what it is”. For North Carolina what it is right now is a trip to a low level bowl game, while having to watched their rivals keep the Victory Bell and head to the ACC Title game.