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UNC 30, Tennessee 27 (2OT)

Well, that’s fitting - a bizarre finish to a bizarre football season.

UNC was dead in the water after blowing a second-half lead against Tennessee and having Dwight Jones drop a pass in the hands on 4th-and-20. The Heels forced a 3-and-out but had the ball at their own 20 with just 31 seconds to play and no time outs. Then the fun began.

T.J. Yates completed a pass for 30 yards to Todd Harrelson, and Tennessee was flagged for a leading-with-the-helmet hit for 15 more yards. Yates then hit Jones for a first down, again getting hit late helmet-to-helmet, but this time there was no call. The Heels next inexplicably called a running play for Shaun Draughn, and then as T.J. Yates was trying to spike the ball, the field goal team was trying to rush onto the field. As a result, UNC had 14 or 15 players as the ball was snapped and spiked and the clock ran to zero. Referee Dennis Lipski of the Big Ten officiating crew called the game over, but replays showed there was in fact one second remaining. UNC was assessed a five-yard penalty for too many men on the field, and Casey Barth calmly drilled a 37-yard field goal to send the game to overtime. (The irony, of course, is that Tennessee lost a game against LSU this season for having too many men on the field, whereas in this case it may have saved the Tar Heels)

After trading touchdowns in the first overtime, senior linebacker Quan Sturdivant intercepted a pass from UT freshman phenom quarterback Tyler Bray, and Barth punched through the game-winner from 23 yards out to give Carolina its first bowl win under Butch Davis and its first overall since 2001.

UNC won the sloppy, penalty-filled game in spite of itself and the atrocious clock management at the end. Yates did not have a stellar final performance, but he was money when it counted. Draughn also capped his career with a fine night, and Ryan Taylor made key catch after key catch. It was simply nice to see the Heels win this sort of game after the heartbreaks particularly in the early season.

Given the injuries, suspensions, and general drama of this season, it is pretty impressive that Carolina ground out eight wins for the third consecutive year. Between a bowl win and two nice basketball wins here at the end of December, maybe we can bid goodbye to the year of hell that was 2010.

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14 comments to UNC 30, Tennessee 27 (2OT)

  • Heel To The End

    8 wins. in THIS year. pretty remarkable, really.
    and at least 3 of the 5 losses were winnable down the stretch.

    (so the block in the back, caused his head to drop and spear Jones? ah. hm.)

  • Robeytussin

    This was the best game i’ve ever been to. The Tennessee fans were celebrating and mocking us at the end of the game. Then everything happened. The energy was so intense. We had probably 10,000 fans there out of the 70,000 in attendance. The walk after the game was kind of scary haha. Lots of angry drunk (since they DID server beer at this game) vols.

  • SouthernTarHeel

    The craziest ending to a game that I have ever seen…just amazing

  • nativeheel

    One of the most improbable wins in the history of Carolina football! But I will take it and enjoy it just like the players who hung in there to the end and made this win happen!
    I also have a new-found disdain for Tennessee football. They proved to be a classless bunch of whiners led by the too cocky Bray and a bitchy coach. Their combined end-of-game attitude and dirty hits just made this win even sweeter!
    Go Heels!!

  • blueheel

    I had to stop watching and record the second half (in order to get up at 5:00 am), so I can’t wait to see the incredible ending.

    I would like to congratulate the team and coaching staff for not giving up in the face of all the ugliness of the NCAA problems and the injuries. The kids who were innocent found the heart to stand up to the adversity and go out there and win games. Bravo! You make me proud.

    As for Butch, he has his supporters and his haters. Until he’s proven to have engaged in wrongdoing, I will not hate him or call for his head, although from reading the newspapers, it looks like many disagree with me. One friend down there (a hater) sent me a link to an N&O article asking if Butch would have supporters if he were not having a winning season. Respectfully, that is not the question. The question is did Butch do anything wrong? If he did, find it and prove it. If not, either support him or at least be quiet.

    Go Heels!

  • 40yrheel

    i agree entirely with chapelhillfan’s post last night:
    Bray for Tenn is one of the cockiest and classless football players I’ve ever seen. Karma is a bitch though and tonight she decided he would blow the game with a Int and then cry on the sidelines on national title. Couldn’t have happened to a more deserving a$$hole.

    Simply put, Davis and Shoop should be fired for the running play and clock mismanagement. And I’m not kidding that much. I was screaming for their heads until the one second was put back on the clock. And, frankly, justice would have made Barth miss that kick. Our coaching staff was horrible and we did nor deserve to get to OT.

    The refs were horrible. Can’t say much more than that. How do you miss the late hit at the end or Bray’s throat slashing?

    Yates seemed brain-dead on many plays when he came to knowing when to throw the ball. Inexcusable.

    All in all though, good win. The program deserved it. The seniors deserved it. (Butch did not.). And Tenn sucks and always deserves heartbreak.

  • Andy In Omaha

    I have to admit, it was a great thing seeing Yates, Draughn, Sturdivant, Burney, Williams, and even Carter go out with a win. These guys are good football players, that had they had competent coaching, would have had much better records and would have been winning much bigger bowl games.
    Because I’m still in a celebratory mood and still looking to agitate all the Vols fans, I’ll refrain from the “keep Butch or fire Butch” discussions until it’s presented first here on the board.

  • Heel To The End

    i didnt have a huge problem with the running play. *I* wouldnt have done it, but there WAS enough time because the receivers didnt have to run deep.
    the problem is how no coach was holding the kicking team back, waiting for the spike to come. a spike was the play to make 100 out of 100 times in that situation, so how they were allowed to pour out onto the field is really a coach or coaches not thinking.

    i’d have to see it all again, but wasnt the pass play to Jones that didnt count due to the review of the previous play, a worse play? it wasnt thrown past the first down marker, and the clock wouldve kept running there.

  • LarryS

    “i’d have to see it all again, but wasnt the pass play to Jones that didnt count due to the review of the previous play, a worse play? it wasnt thrown past the first down marker, and the clock wouldve kept running there.”

    Good observation.

    I remember thinking, at the time of that play, that Carolina got a big break because of the review.

  • chapelhillfan

    Agree about the pass play. Typical poor coaching by Shoop. Like I said, I loved seeing Carolina win…and especially Tenn and Bray-perhaps the most classless player for someone who has never accomplished anything, but karma also should have penalized the coaching staff.

    But, the program deserved some breaks to win this game.

  • Charleston HEEL

    As lost as Yates looked most of the night, that was a heady play he made continuing with the spike when the field goal team was running on (and off) the field.

  • Stratplans

    Good to see this group go out with a win - this season could easily have gone down the tubes before it started. Saw the replays of the ending this morning. The refs got it right and the ‘heels got lucky. Sometimes that happens.

    UT’s careless and classless effort starts at the top. Dooley and his staff were on top of the officials all night (see the play in the 1st half where the ‘heels receiver stepped out of bounds and came back to make a catch). After the game, not a word about his team’s mistakes or not thinking. It was all about the runoff rule and we were robbed. Players follow the coach’s lead. Wise up and the team will follow.

  • scl11

    Who needs quality coaching when you can hope for LUCK to bail you out? Just like the FSU game bad coaching decisions are offset by the freakish chance play that gifts a win to Carolina’s inept coaching staff.

    Also glad to see Yates, who evidently must have had a sore arm considering he didn’t throw the ball past 4 yards more than twice prior to the final 30 seconds, redeem himself after an inexcusable intentional grounding call that should have cost Carolina the game, again if not for lady luck. I will definitely not miss Yates’s happy feet running out of perfectly good pocket in order slip on his own feet or get run down by 300 lbs defensive tackles in the future.

  • gregrustin

    Thanks TJ for alot of memories and alot of “huh”s. I wish you well in your endeavors. I am looking forward to a new season and a new QB. its over.