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September 28, 2013It was an in state rivalry that brought fans all around North Carolina to Chapel Hill today. The stadium was full of baby blue and purple, as the Pirates and Tar Heels took the field Saturday afternoon, in what one would hope to be a special game.
It was also Military Appreciation day, as North Carolina painted the field red, white, and blue to help celebrate all who have sacrificed for our country. It started out to be a great day for football but eventually ended up to be a day to forget for the Tar Heels, as they fell to East Carolina 55-31 in Chapel Hill Saturday afternoon.
It was a display of offense throughout the game, as the two teams combined for 1,068 yards total on the day, but the Pirates were able to get the last word and ending their 38 year streak of not winning at Kenan Stadium.
Check down below for a recap of the game, as the Tar Heels will look to bounce back against Virginia Tech next week in Blacksburg.
In the first quarter, the Pirates wanted to make it known that they came to Chapel Hill to play, as Shane Carden completed six of seven on the first drive to give the Pirates a quick 7-0 lead. Carden was able to hit Justin Hardy, the Pirates best receiver for an eight yard touchdown in just three and half minutes into the game, setting the tempo early for the Pirates.
The Tar Heels started to click early on offense, as Bryn Renner was able to hit his receivers early, while A.J. Blue took it early in the ground game. However, the Pirates were able to create an early turnover, as Chip Thompson made a great interception against Renner. The Pirates took advantage of the field position and a few personal foul penalties against the Tar Heels, as Carden eventually found Lance Ray for another touchdown, giving ECU the start they were looking for.
Eventually, the Tar Heels caught some breaks with some penalties from East Carolina, being able to travel 68 yards as the first quarter ended, looking to put the Tar Heels on the board.
In the first quarter, the Pirates were able to rack up 145 yards on offense, with Carden going 13 of 17 from the field for 108 yards and two touchdowns. The Tar Heels were also able to get the ball rolling throughout the quarter, racking up 121 yards total but no points.
1st Quarter: East Carolina 14 - North Carolina 0
It has been known that UNC has struggled early on in the season getting the ball in for the touchdown, when down deep in their opponents red zone. After traveling 69 yards on their third drive, yet again, the Tar Heels had to settle for an easy field goal instead of a touchdown. The Tar Heels were able to get on the board but certainly were looking for more.
Tre Boston, the senior safety, was able to get a great interception to try to turn the tide around for the Tar Heels in the second quarter, but the Pirates stood strong, forcing UNC to punt the ball. That is all that Ruffin McNeill needed, as Carden continued his air assault against the Tar Heels, simply driving the Pirates down for a one yard touchdown run in six plays. The fans grew silent in the stadium, as the Tar Heel faithful seemed stunned at what was unfolding in front of their eyes; a 21-3 deficit for the Tar Heels against the Pirates.
The Tar Heel offense had to come together, as Larry Fedora has some tricks up his sleeve still for the Tar Heels. On the Tar Heel next drive, UNC was able to drive down to the 32 of ECU, as Fedora pulled out one of his trick plays. The Tar Heels were able get the ball out on a reverse to Quinshad Davis and Davis soon found T.J. Thorpe in the back of the end zone for a 32 yard touchdown, getting the Heels on the board.
But the pattern continued, as the Tar Heel defense couldn't stand the offensive ability of the Pirates and they methodically moved down the field before one could even blink. Eventually, the Pirates made it inside the five yard line, before UNC gave up another penalty (personal foul), giving the Pirates another set of downs. Carden took advantage of it with his second rushing touchdown, one yard out and giving the Pirates back an 18 point lead before halftime.
Halftime: East Carolina 28 - North Carolina 10
Adjustments needed to be made on the Tar Heel side. The defense seemed to be on their toes the whole first half, as they saw the Pirates rack up over 300 yards on offense. Last year, the Pirates only had 233 yards total in a UNC victory in Chapel Hill. Things have certainly turned around in the Pirates favor Saturday evening.
Coming out the second half, the Tar Heels seemed to be back where they were on offense, in a three and out, and looking to punt the ball. The Pirates continued what they did best in the first half, methodically moving the ball down the field with a balanced attack of both the run and pass, confusing the Tar Heel defenders. Eventually, the Pirates were able to scamper into the end zone for a three yard touchdown by Chris Hairston, making it 35-10 and almost making it unbearable to watch for the Carolina crowd.
The scoring battle continued going back and forth throughout the third quarter, as both teams were able to score two touchdowns. Renner was able to hook up with Bug Howard and Nic Platt for touchdowns in the third quarter, as he tried to rally the comeback
However, the defense continued to struggle to stop the offense, as they did through the first two quarters. Vintavious Cooper continued to run and catch the ball out in space, allowing the Pirates to simply move the ball down the field with ease.
3rd Quarter: East Carolina 42 - North Carolina 24
The Tar Heels knew what they had to do to come back, but it eventually was just too much to overcome Saturday evening. The Tar Heels held the Pirates to two field goals in the fourth quarter, but never could get rolling, with the Tar Heels scoring only once on a 51 yard touchdown grab by Davis from Renner.
The Tar Heels simply just dug themselves too big of a hole on the day, giving up 603 yards at the end of the game, with Carden throwing for 376 yards through the air and Cooper finishing the day with 186 yards on the ground.
The Pirates topped the cake off with a 48 yard bomb to the corner for a touchdown, pushing the lead to 55-31 and securing the victory Saturday for the Pirates. The Pirates haven't won in Chapel Hill since 1975 and yet they were the underdog coming into the game.
The loss puts the Tar Heels in a place where they haven't been in the last two seasons, facing a 1-3 record and now having to travel to Blacksburg next week to face the Hokies. Everything the Tar Heels tried to do Saturday went wrong, as the Pirates simply out played them for four quarters.
Fedora and the staff will have to go back to the drawing board this week, on both sides of the ball, because even though this wasn't an ACC opponent, the way Carolina lost to the Pirates has to put concern in the minds of the staff and fans.
This win by the Pirates was their first win in 38 years at Chapel Hill and only their third victory against the Tar Heels in the series.