As I said before in the preview, This game is important for both teams not only for bragging rights, but to keep bowl hopes alive. This game will likely come down to who plays better defense, who can protect the football, and our team’s ability when T.J. Yates does this:
11:57: College Gameday gave their picks for this game. Lee Corso: Boooooooooooo…. Kirk Herbstreit: Yeeeeeaahhhhhhh!!!
12:11 pm: Carolina gets the ball to start the game, and will begin their offense at the 19 yard line.
12:12 pm: Johnny White starts at RB, and gets the handoff on first down. He’s stopped for a 1 yard gain.
12:13 pm: INTERCEPTION! Yates throws a floater into double coverage, and the safety gets an easy pick. Once again, we do exactly what we cannot do to start the game.
12:14 pm: Evans throws a decent screen pass, but NC State faces 3rd and short.
12:15 pm: Evans escapes the pocket, and once again finds the fullback to the left side, and he falls forward for a first down.
12:17 pm: SACK! The Heels put the pressure on Evans, and he’s eventually brought down at the 27 yard line by Durell Mapp.
12:18 pm: Evans completes to Marcus Stone, but it’s well short of a first down. The Wolfpack settle for a field goal. NC State leads, 3-0. Considering the interception, UNC is lucky to only be down three.
12:22 pm: UNC runs it again on first down. Bobby Rome goes nowhere.
12:23 pm: Yates has time, and fires a bullet to Greg Little in the middle for a first down.
12:24 pm: White gets the handoff again. This time he gets a decent 4 yard gain.
On second down, Yates’ quick pass to Richard Quinn is too high.
12:25 pm: Yates hits Pianalto in the flat, but the Wolfpack hit in the open field in what appears to be just short of the first down. Will UNC go for it on fourth down at midfield?
12:26 pm: The Heels decide to punt it away on fourth and short, NC State takes over inside the 15.
12:30 pm: NC State runs two sweeps, and Jamelle Eugene gets two big runs. a completion to Blackman brings the Wolfpack to midfield in just three plays.
12:32 pm: right now, NC State are getting big run plays by running the ball away from the blitz, where UNC is leaving big holes in their defense. Als, UNC, defenders aren;t wrapping up when they tackle.
12:35 pm: TOUCHDOWN. Jamelle Eugene and the NC State offensive line overpower the UNC defense, and Eugene breaks the plane of the end zone. Pending review, NC State has a two-score lead in the first quarter. Once again, the Tar Heels have allowed themselves to get hit in the mouth to start a game. 10-0, NC State.
12:40 pm: A flag on UNC’s kick return, which almost invariably means a holding/block in the back.
12:41 pm: Yates rolls out on the play action, and he finds Hakeem Nicks open down field for a first down.
12:42 pm: White gets into the secondary, but the safety makes a good open field tackle for a four yard gain.
12:43 pm: Yates finds a wide open Brooks Foster on the blitz, and he gets big yardage after the catch before being brought down at the NCSU 34.
12:44 pm: Yates goes deep to Hakeem Nicks, but it’s just out of Hakeem Nicks’ reach. That could have been six.
12:45 pm: Yates overthrows Foster on third down, and UNC face fourth down at the the 35. They try the field goal…and it’s wide left. NC State still leads 10-0, and now they have great field position.
12;47 pm: Wait…I knew that secondary was thin on the depth chart, but Richie Rich is playng DB?
The first quarter ends, the Wolfpack leading 10-0. This position has been all too familiar to us this season.
12:50 pm: Another pass and catch to Marcus Stone off the play action. Evans has hit his lat 10 passes.
12:56 pm: DE Bruce Carter bats down the pass by Evans. One of UNC’s few good defensive plays so far.
12:57 pm: The Wolfpack just plain want it more right now. Once again UNC had a chance to stop the offense, and Eugene overpowers the tacklers for the first down.
12:58 pm: TOUCHDOWN. Jamelle Eugene overpowers another tackler who doesn’t wrap him up, and rumbles in for the score. NC State leads 17-0. What on earth is wrong with this team in the first half this season?
1:02 pm: is Anthony Elzy injured? He’s responsible for two of our three best rushing performances this season, and he has yet to even see the field.
1:03 pm: They try the end around to Brandon Tate, but he’s chased out of bounds before he can make any ground.
1:04 pm: Yates finds Brooks Foster, but he’s well short of the first down, UNC is forced to punt.
1:05 pm: After a few missed tackles, Darell Blackman gets a huge return inside the 30 yard line. Only Charles Brown saves the touchdown.
1:10 pm: INTERCEPTION GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGGO TOUCHDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!! Daniel Evans thorws it right into the hands of Charles Brown, and he returns it 92 yards the other way to the endzone. NC State leads, 17-7, but UNC gets exactly the big momentum swing they needed. If Evans had completed that ball, it would have been over at 24-0. But now UNC is back in this game.
1:14 pm: Kendric Burney breaks up the pass intended for Blackman.
1:16 pm: UNC breaks up the pass again, forcing a punt. The punt is partially blocked, and the Heels will start at the NCSU 41.
1:17 pm: Greg Little dive for the catch 8 yards out on first down, but Bobby Rome is stuffed toe set up 3rd and 2.
1:18 pm: The Heels get their first third down conversion, a 4 yard gain up the middle.
1:19 pm: Brandon Tate was double covered, but Yates threaded the needle, and Tate almost made the catch in the endzone.
Yates overthorws Foster in the flat again. 3rd and 10, and they at least need some yardage for a possible field goal.
1:20 pm: The Wolfpack put the pressure on, forcing the incomplete pass. Connor Barth kicks the field goal down the middle, and suddenly the game is 17-10, a one score game.
1:25 pm: Evans complete the pass into a crowd of defenders on third down, finding his tight end.
1:26 pm: NC State gets a huge reception, but it’s called back with a holding call.
1:27 pm: Either Jamelle Eugene is one of the strongest runners I’ve seen all season, or the Heels defense are amnesic about wrapping up when they tackle.
1:28 pm: Evans completes another pass for a first down, and the Wolfpack offense seems to be clicking once again.
1:30 pm: TOUCHDOWN. Two play action fakes by the Pack lead to two wide open catches, the last of which is a touchdown catch by Marcus Stone. NC State leads, 24-10.
1:35 pm: Yates finds Johnny White for a first down in field goal range, but the pass is called back with a holding call. In addition, a sack on the next play puts UNC behind the original line of scrimmage to start the drive.
1:37 pm: Yates is sacked again with less than 20 seconds left in the half, and the Heels will be forced to punt. NC State calls a timeout with 13 seconds left, hoping too get a big return before halftime.
1:40 pm: Brown pins the Wolfpack down at the 1 yard line, but there are only 2 seconds left.
1:41 pm: Evans tries a QB sneak to end the half. UNC leads 24-10 at halftime. NC State is dominating this game on offense, as Jamelle Eugene is having a big day against a defense that has been making bad plays at the worst possible time. They’ll need to shut down the Wolfpack on defense and do something on offense to have any hope of coming back. If not for the Charles Brown interception this game would be a blowout.
2:12 pm: UNC’s defense forces a punt on the opening possession, but they can’t do anything with it. Terence Brown’s punt goes 52 yards without a return. The offense has continued to be rather disappointing.
2:16 pm: The Defense get s the Wolfpack to go three and out, putting pressure on Evans the entire possession. After the short punt, UNC will have the ball near midfield, with a chance to make this a one score game again…assuming that the offense can wake up from their slumber at this point.
2:20 pm: TOUCHDOWN CAROLINA! The Heels hand the ball off to Bobby Rome, and he throws a deep pass to a wide open Brandon Tate, who waltzes into the end zone. The game is 24-17, and the Heels are very much back in this game with 23 minutes to play. A near perfect time for the Heels to run that trick play, and now the defense of the Pack will be forced to stay honest.
2:23 pm: Eugene drops the pass on second down. The Pack are forced into a third and long.
2:24 pm: SACK! Evans rolls out, but Hilee Taylor chases him down, forcing another 3-and-out. The wind kills the punt, and UNC will start at the UNC 40 with a chance to tie.
2:27 pm: I don’t know, but I’m getting the impression that Brandon Tate isn’t running full speed on his routes. He’s giving full effort, but he’s mistiming the route.
2:28 pm: Yates, what are you doing? You need to get into scoring range, but you dump to your back at the original line of scrimmage on third and long. Either throw it away and keep room for the punt, or go for the first down.
2:29 pm: NC State drops another pass. This time it’s Blackman.
2:31 pm: Evans succumbs to the pressure again, and UNC forces their third consecutive punt.
2:32 pm: UNC comes dangerously close to roughing the kicker, but UNC gets the ball back.
2:33 pm: Two nice plays to start the drive. First, Pianalto is wide open for a first down on the flat, and Elzy gets his first carry of the game, an 8 yard gain.
2:34 pm: Bobby Rome drops the low pass on third and short, but Butch Davis decides to go for it.
2:35 pm: They run the same play, and this time Rome makes the catch for the first down.
2:36 pm: Hakeem Nicks falls down just before the throw gets to him.
2:37 pm: Yates scrambles, and he find Pianalto to the right side again. First down, Carolina at the 11.
2:38 pm: OH! Yates makes another great throw, and Nicks makes the catch, but couldn’t hang onto it long enough for the touchdown.
2:41 pm: UNC tries the short pass to Nicks, but he goes nowhere. NC State leads, 24-17, at the end of the third quarter, and Connor Barth will try the field goal to start the fourth. The defense tightened up when they had to, and UNC’s offense has finally arrived to the game.
2:44 pm: The field goal is good. The game is now 24-20.
2:47 pm: Bowens gets a huge return, but a dumb block in the back brings the ball back inside their own 5 yard line.
2:50 pm: Evans comes under pressure, and Burney’s good coverage prevents a big gain.
2:51 pm: Evans rolls out on third down, and he finds Bowens, who fights for the first down and gets past the marker.
2:52 pm: The defense simply cannot allow Jamelle Eugene to take over this game again.
2:53 pm: The defensive line for Carolina is simply getting dominated on this possession.
2:54 pm: Evans works the play action again, and he finds Marcus Stone in a gap in the defense.
2:56 pm: INTERCEPTION GOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGOGO TOUCHDOOOOOOOOWWWWWWWWNNNNNNNN!!!! UNC DOES IT AGAIN! The screen pass is tipped by Mapp, Kendric Burney catches it, and he returns it all the way for the score! UNC takes the 27-24 lead! What a turn of events! The defense comes up huge with two interceptions returned for touchdowns today.
3:01 pm: SACK! Evans tries to pump fake. Kentwan Balmer doesn’t buy it.
3:04 pm: SACK! Hilee Taylor chases him down again, this time getting his 10th sack of the season and forcing another UNC punt. The Tar Heels are now in unfamiliar territory: in the fourth quarter, with a slim lead. Let’s see what they do.
3:06 pm: Johnny White gets a huge gain on the screen, but it turns out that a block in the back sprung it. The play is negated.
3:08 pm: Little gets a pass in the flat, but he only gets a short gain. 3rd and long.
3:09 pm: NOOOOOOO!!! Kyle Jolly gets beat on Yates’ blind side, the ball is jarred out of his hands and into the hands of a defensive lineman. Once again, the Heels turn the ball over at the worst possible moment. But don’t blame Yates for that; credit the defensive end for his relentless pursuit.
3:11 pm: NC State gets a first down in the red zone, and they have 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
3:12 pm: Quan Sturdivant is caught offside, and suddenly the Wolfpack are inside the 6 yard line.
3:13 pm: Eugene makes a great cut for a first down, and is brought down within two feet of the end zone.
3:16 pm: Eugene is stopped on first down, a sure touchdown pass is defelcted on second down, and Eugene appears to be stopped on third down, but UNC is caught offsides again.
3:17 pm: TOUCHDOWN. Eugene goes to the outside, and he scores easily. NC State takes a 31-27 lead with 1:41 to play. North Carolina now need to drive the length of the field to win this game, something they haven’t done all day.
3:19 pm: Tate retunrs the ball to the 37. The tar Heels must cross 63 yards in 94 seconds.
3:21 pm: First two passes are incompletions. 3rd and 10.
3;22 pm: The pass intended for Nicks is deflected. It all comes down to one play.
3:23 pm: And it;s Nicks who’s open in the middle! First down. On the next play, Foster catches the ball before being dragged out of bounds. 49 second left, inside the 40.
3:24 pm: Little is tackled short of the first down. With 41 second left, UNC takes their second timeout. The Heels face 3rd and short.
3:25 pm: Yates finds Pianalto for the first down with 32 seconds left.
Foster nearly makes the catch on first down. 27 seconds left.
3:26 pm: It’s Tate! Who catches it at the nine with 20 second left. They take their final timeout. Now we cannot afford a sack.
3:28 pm: Yates throws it out of the endzone. 14 seconds left.
3;28 pm: Incomplete pass, intended for Foster. Third down.
3:29 pm: Nicks was interfered with, but it’s fourth down.
3:30 pm: A fade route to Nicks, but it’s incomplete. And NC State will hang on to win, 31-27. A valiant effort on the part of the Tar Heels, but once again, a turnover at the worst possible time is what costs UNC the game. With the result of this game, NC State has won 4 straight, and North Carolina has been eliminated from bowl contention. I’m still proud of this team, and this was a fantastic game. But that’s exactly why this loss hurts.