UNC Wins Shootout in Chapel Hill
By Stuart Barefoot
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UNC used a 24-7 third quarter against the ACC’s second-best defense to pick up the win.
North Carolina overcame a rough ending to the first half to beat Maryland 45-38 on Saturday. Despite the Terps scoring three touchdowns in under a minute, UNC used a 24-7 third quarter against the ACC’s second-best defense to pick up the win and finish the season 8-4. Maryland fell to 4-8 with the loss.
Bryn Renner tied the school record with five touchdown passes, as he picked up 305 yards, completing 28 of 39 passes. His counterpart, Shawn Petty, had a surprisingly good game. The converted linebacker was 16 for 35, with 208 yards and a touchdown. His offense gave him plenty of help, as Stefon Diggs had 82 receiving yards, returned a kick for a TD, and even threw a touchdown pass.
The second quarter was the most exciting15 minutes of play, and it ended in bizarre fashion. With UNC leading 21-14 and 0:21 remaining, the Terps tied it when Diggs threw his aforementioned touchdown. After taking the hand off, Diggs peeled to his left where it appeared he was trying to get out of bounds. Instead, he threw the ball eight yards, where it was caught by Matt Furstenberg in the end zone. With the game tied, all UNC had to do was not mess up on the kickoff and the game would be tied at the half. That didn’t happen. After Romar Morris bobbled the kickoff, Anthony Dixon recovered the ball for the Terps at the Carolina 28. On the very next play, Petty threw the ball right up the middle for a 28-yard touchdown to Kevin Dorsey. Maryland ended the half leading 28-21, leaving the Heels completely dumbfounded.
The Terps continued to punish UNC at the start of the third. Diggs returned the kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown to put Maryland up 35-21. At this point, the game looked rather bleak for the Heels. Trailing by 14 and facing a tough defense did not prove to be insurmountable, however. On the very next drive, which began at the 50-yard line, Renner completed a 50-yard pass to pull the Heels within seven.
UNC would not look back.
After a Terrapin three-and-out, the Heels would tie the game when Renner and Erik Highsmith connected for a 15-yard touchdown. Carolina would close the third quarter with a field goal and a Bernard touchdown to give UNC a 45-35 lead. Neither team would manage much offense in the fourth quarter, though Maryland would kick a field goal.
One thing is clear. In my preview, I underestimated Maryland. I chalked their good defensive numbers up to a weak schedule. I didn’t think their offense would do anything close to what they did, and couldn’t help but root for Petty to have a good game. The point is, I was wrong about this team, but thoroughly enjoyed this game. But that’s the great thing about college football. You never know what will happen, and with Maryland heading to the Big Ten, they made sure the ACC would remember them after this game.
So that wraps up North Carolina’s season. It was a wild finish to an odd season, one that ends with an unfortunate bowl ban. This was a great season to build upon though, and there is no reason to think the Heels are even beginning to peak. I’ll follow up next week, with an entire season recap. Thanks for a great season, folks!