Back Hot Read: UNC Comes Up Just Short

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Hot Read: UNC Comes Up Just Short

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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North Carolina falls to Stanford 25-23 in the Sun Bowl.

1. North Carolina played five regular season games decided by seven points or less and the Sun Bowl proved to be no different. Trailing Stanford by eight points late, the Tar Heels pulled within two on a touchdown pass from Mitch Trubisky to Bug Howard with 25 seconds remaining, but were unable to convert a potential game-tying  two-point conversion in a 25-23 loss. Down 16-7 midway through the third quarter, North Carolina rallied to within a play of overtime.

2. Turnovers proved especially costly for the Tar Heels. North Carolina lost possession three times, with a Dallas Lloyd interception return for a touchdown of a Mitch Trubisky pass standing as the play of the game. Coming early in the fourth quarter, Lloyd's pick-six gave the Cardinal a go-ahead 22-17 advantage. After just four interceptions all season, Trubisky threw two against Stanford.

3. Even with the handful of mistakes in the loss, Mitch Trubisky still had a season to remember. He threw 30 touchdown passes compared to just six interceptions, ranking in the top five nationally with a completion percentage of nearly 69%. Trubisky's talents were on full display on UNC's final drive. Few quarterbacks in the country had a better year than Trubisky.  

4. Playmaker Ryan Switzer also leaves a mark on the record book. The Tar Heel wide receiver and return specialist caught five passes for 85 yards and a touchdown, ending his career with 244 career receptions; that total moves Switzer into the top five in ACC history. He is additionally one of the most dynamic punt returners of all-time. 

5. Up front, the Tar Heels struggled to block Cardinal lineman Soloman Thomas. In addition to pressuring Trubisky, Thomas helped hold North Carolina to just 3.2 yards per rush. Thomas was the best player on the field on Friday.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports