North Carolina came in Thursday night with the inspirations to bring a top 10 upset to Chapel Hill, as the Tar Heels faced off against #10 Miami Hurricanes.
However, the night was a night mixed with emotions, as the Tar Heels had a 23-13 lead in the fourth quarter but ended up losing in heartbreaking fashion 27-23 in the final seconds of the game. Here are some of the game changers in the game for both teams, in what were the difference makers throughout Thursday night, as the Tar Heels fall to the Miami Hurricanes and 1-5 overall.
The Hurricanes started off early in the first half, as countless times throughout the game the Hurricanes were able to hit big plays on the Tar Heels, something that has hurt North Carolina in the past. Duke Johnson was able to run for a 59 yard gain, Phillip Dorsett had a 68 yard completion, Allen Hurns had a 42 yard reception, while Dallas Crawford was able to get chunks of yardage at times on the ground. In the end, it hurt that Tar Heels giving up plays like that, as the defense played well enough to win, but gave up over 556 yards on the night. The Tar Heels certainly had their chances and should have their heads up high, but they know they let this one get away from them at times against a tough Miami Hurricanes team.
Punt Block returned for Touchdown
The punt block in the second quarter seemed to change the whole factor in the game. The Tar Heels had denied the Hurricanes twice early on in the red zone, forcing the Hurricanes into two field goals, while the Tar Heels were able to go up 7-6 early. Ladarius Gunter was able to pick up the ball and return the field goal attempt 67 yards the other way, pushing the Hurricanes back into the lead. If one thinks about it, the Tar Heels would have gone up 10-6 and possibly scored their other 10 points, giving them a possible 20-6 lead into halftime. But with that one play, the Hurricanes were able to stay close throughout the game, in what would be come from behind victory for the Hurricanes Thursday night.
Coming in, the Miami Hurricanes had a backfield that many teams would love to have. With Duke Johnson in the game early, the Hurricanes were able to expose the Tar Heels on the ground game, as Johnson scampered for a 59 yard gain early in the first. In everyone's eyes, they knew that the run game of Johnson would be a key point for the Tar Heel defense in this game. However, Johnson went back to the locker room early in the game and never returned, giving the Hurricanes a huge disadvantage on the field; or so they thought. In came sophomore Dallas Crawford and the Hurricanes didn't skip a beat. Crawford, who had 119 yards rushing all season, came in and ran for 145 yards on 33 carries for two touchdowns, the last one being the go ahead score in the fourth quarter. The Tar Heels had success early on in the run game on defense, but the big guys up front for the Hurricanes and Crawford saved the day for Miami.
Eric Ebron was certainly a game changer in this game; unfortunately it was on the losing end of the game. Ebron had a career high of 199 yards receiving and broke the UNC record for receiving in a game for a tight end. Ebron, countless times, made huge plays for the Tar Heels, including a 71 yard reception for a touchdown and a great one handed grab in the second half. Even though the Tar Heels fell Thursday night, Ebron made all the difference in the game and was a true game changer for the Tar Heels in Chapel Hill.
The passing game for the Tar Heels was another game changer, something that has been questioned at times over the season. But the Tar Heels seemed to get it together for the most part of the game, as Renner threw for 297 yards on the night, while Williams came in and threw for 98 yards also. The offense seemed to get into a flow for most of the game, hitting several players out in the open and allowing the athletes of North Carolina to make plays. At times, the passing game had trouble, especially in the fourth. But the Tar Heels were able to show their fire power again against a team that had only allowed two passing touchdowns all year and was a top 10 defense in points scored. This game, even though a loss, was the best game so far for the passing game this season for the Tar Heels.
Fourth Quarter Play
Everyone says that a great team has to at times find ways to win, even when it isn't going their way. Well, Thursday night showed why the Hurricanes were a top team in the country, especially how they were able to handle the adversity of being down by 10 in the fourth quarter. The Hurricanes made some questionable plays at times with some costly turnovers, but made just enough to squeak by with the win. On the other hand, the Tar Heels didn't handle the pressure as well, even though they had several chances to run down the clock and put points on the board. Renner made a costly mistake in the fourth though; throwing a questionable ball that was intercepted deep into Miami territory, right after UNC had created a turnover for themselves. Penalties and turnovers hurt the Tar Heels in the fourth quarter, as North Carolina wasn't able to move the ball enough against the defense of Miami, while the Hurricanes did the complete opposite to the Tar Heel defense. The Hurricanes, even though it might have not been their night, played the entire 60 minutes of the game and never gave up, making plays at the end; something a top team in the country should do.
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