by Mike Potter
And the Tar Heels have a chance to get a big-time upset and turn their season around.
UNC (1-4, 0-2 ACC) will take on surprising No. 10 Miami (5-0, 1-0) in an ESPN game that over the summer was supposed to have a lot to say about who won the ACC’s Coastal Division title.
The Tar Heels are 9½-point underdogs, but they won 18-14 on the road last year.
UNC is billing the game as “Zero Dark Thursday,” wearing black helmets, jerseys and pants with Carolina Blue trim.
UNC generates 500 yards total offense, but the visitors produce 556 and score on Dallas Crawford’s three-yard run with 16 seconds left for the 27-23 win.
Miami takes the early lead on Matt Goudis’ 22-yard field goal with 8:51 left in the first, completing a 10-play, 76-yard march. The big play of the drive was Duke Johnson’s 59-yard sprint to the UNC 12.
But the Tar Heels strike back with some lightning of their own, as backup QB Marquise Williams hits Eric Ebron just short of midfield and the tight end sprints 71 yards down the right sideline. After Thomas Moore’s conversion, UNC leads 7-3 with 5:19 left in the quarter.
Goudis adds a 20-yard field goal at 2:59, four plays after a 68-yard pass from Stephen Morris to Phillip Dorsett.
And then Miami gets a big break at 12:33 of the second. Artie Burns blocks a Moore field goal attempt and the ball goes directly into the hands of Ladarius Gunter who goes untouched 67 yards down the right sideline. Goudis kicks and it’s 13-7. It was the first time a UNC field goal had been blocked since 2005.
Back come the Tar Heels with a seven-play, 71-yard drive, with Renner hitting Quinshad Davis just behind the defense in the end zone from 20 yards out. Moore’s boot makes it 14-13 at 9:50.
Moore stretches the lead to 17-13 at 3:32, when he hits a 25-yard field goal to end a 12-play, 60-yard excursion.
Goudis misses a 43-yard field-goal attempt with 11:56 left in the third.
But Moore connects from 35 yards out at the 6:59 mark, completing a 10-play, 56-yard drive, to put the hosts up 20-13.
He makes it a two-possession game with 14:17 left on a 22-yard field goal to finish a 12-play, 76-yard drive.
But Miami narrows the gap again, as Dallas Crawford bulls in from three yards out to complete a seven-play, 75-yard march with 11:24 remaining. Goudis’ kick makes it 23-20.
And the Hurricanes get the winner with 16 seconds left, as Crawford goes in from three yards out to finish a 13-play, 90-yard march and Goudis converts.
UNC’s final drive ends on an incomplete pass into the end zone from the Miami 28.
Crawford leads the Hurricanes with 137 yards and the two TDs on 33 carries. Morris completes 19 of 35 passes for 322 yards with four interceptions for the winners, while Allen Hurns catches six passes for 98 yards.
Ebron catches eight passes for 199 yards — both UNC records for a tight end — and a touchdown. Renner completes 28 of 36 passes for 297 yards and a TD with one interception, while T.J. Logan carries 16 times for 61 yards.
They said it …
Miami coach Al Golden: “It’s a great win because, obviously, we’re on the road and down 10 points. Obviously you’re fighting the elements and the environment. We have four interceptions, we lose pivotal players (Johnson and Dorsett to injuries) and everybody just rallies. It just says a lot about the guys.”
UNC coach Larry Fedora: “We have a bunch of guys hurting in that locker room down there. A bunch of guys that played their tails off and gave everything they had. They did everything we asked, they’re continuing to practice hard, they’re believing in each other. They’re working hard and playing hard. Give Miami credit for what they did tonight. They made the plays when they had to make them, and won the game; it’s a tough one to swallow.”
Ebron: “We know how to play football. We’ve proved that. Our record speaks lower volumes than our performance. We’re a good team. We just have a lot of young people in a lot of really important positions. To keep maturing as a team, that’s really what we’ve got. We got a maturity out of our young players this game, and the more and more we play, the more and more they develop.”
Renner: “It’s deflating. We put our heart and soul into this game. We had a great bye week of practice, the best week of practice we’ve had, and you come up a little bit short. It’s very frustrating, but we have to move forward and we’ll get better from this. (My UNC career is) coming down to the end, and it’s definitely tough to lose a game like this. We had such an opportunity, and we let it slip away. It’s tough for all of the team.”
What does it all mean?
That Miami remains alive for, well, a national championship. And that the Tar Heels have to win five of their last six to play in a bowl game.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Gunter’s blocked field goal return for the TD.
UNC: Lost 4.
Miami: Won 8.
Miami vs. Wake Forest, Oct. 26, noon.
UNC vs. Boston College, Oct. 26, 3:30 p.m.