Final UNC 20, No. 14 Virginia Tech 17: Deja-Barth saves UNC season | Sports

Final UNC 20, No. 14 Virginia Tech 17: Deja-Barth saves UNC season

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T.J. Yates made up for costly interceptions with clutch throws late in the fourth.
  • T.J. Yates made up for costly interceptions with clutch throws late in the fourth.

TV/ESPN -- Remember when Connor Barth lined up and nailed a a 42-yard field goal to beat No. 4 Miami in Chapel Hill as time expired?

Well, fast forward five years later and Casey Barth continued the family legacy and made two field goals in the fourth quarter against No. 14 Virginia Tech, including the game-winning boot as the clock ticked to zero.

The kick snapped an eight-year losing streak to ranked opponents on the road and mirrored the elder Barth's game-winner.  It wasn't pretty and and just sneaked its way through the uprights.

For the first time all season, UNC's offense showed heart, rallying from a T.J. Yates interception that looked to seal a Virginia Tech fourth quarter rally.

But instead, Yates directed a 16-play drive, including clutch catches from Greg Little and Zack Pianalto.  The drive ended with Casey Barth's first made field goal of the game, and stole 8:59 off the clock and left the Hokies with little time to win the game.

After the ensuing kickoff, freshman Hokie running back Ryan Williams took a handoff on third-and-7 and lost a costly fumble.  UNC defensive back Deunta Williams recovered and returned the ball inside the Hokie 25-yard line, allowing the UNC offense to run the clock down and score the winning three points.  Ryan Williams had a towel over his head the rest of the game and was comforted by UNC linebacker Quan Sturdivant after time expired.

The defensive line kept the Virginia Tech offense off balance all game long.  The Hokies totaled 95 rushing yards -- 108 yards short of their season average. Tyrod Taylor, who faced constant pressure from the UNC front, led an offense that went 6-for-15 on third down conversions and 1-for-3 on fourth down attempts.

The victory finally gives Butch Davis a signature win in his third season and keeps UNC's bowl bid alive.  Needing two wins in the final four games to be eligible, the Tar Heels are beginning to develop into a gutsy, scrappy team that we media geniuses expected to be a contender in the ACC.

Going into this game, I felt the Heels had to win in order to salvage the season and grab the fanbase's attention and recover what has been an ordinary football atmosphere in Chapel Hill.

The team played its most complete game against a quality opponent.  Running backs Ryan Houston and Shaun Draughn provided a dual threat on the ground; Little caught several crucial passes; Yates looked poised when he doesn't normally; the defense forced the Hokies to win by passing; John Shoop's X's and O's confused notorious Hokie defensive coordinator Bud Foster.  Most importantly, UNC looked flat out better than No. 14-ranked Hokies, who were considered a sleeper in the BCS race a few weeks ago before losing to Georgia Tech.

Up next, Duke travels to Kenan Stadium trying to keep pace with Georgia Tech in the Atlantic standings for first place.  I repeat, Duke could possibly play for the ACC championship.  If the Heels continue to piece together gutsy performances like this, winning three out of the next four games wouldn't shock me.

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