North Carolina’s wins against three overmatched opponents – North Carolina A&T (53-14), Illinois (48-14) and Delaware (41-14) – didn’t build confidence in the offense for the upcoming ACC season that opened at Georgia Tech.
It was North Carolina’s first win in Atlanta since the 1997 season when Mack Brown led the Tar Heels to the No. 6 spot nationally in the final AP Poll. Repeating that feat with games remaining at Clemson and Miami and against Florida State and Georgia won’t be easy.
Coach Paul Johnson said he felt as if he had been “gut-punched” after the loss left the Yellow Jackets in a deep hole in the ACC’s Coastal Division.
“I’m sure that our players feel like I do”.
“I thought we had plenty of chances”, Johnson said.
“And how much we refuse to let each other down”.
After allowing 204 rushing yards in the first half, the Tar Heels defense limited Georgia Tech to just 51 in the second half.
After questions about a possible quarterback controversy dominated the headlines in Chapel Hill this week, senior Marquise Williams was electric against Georgia Tech.
Fans booed the ruling as Gotsis was escorted off the field.
“It was a big hit”, safety Jamal Golden said.
Down by 21, Hood scored on a two-yard run for the Tar Heels with 1:29 remaining in the second quarter.
The Yellow Jackets even used walkon junior Austin McClellan, who gained 26 yards on three carries.
The Yellow Jackets scored on its first three possessions, with Thomas scoring two one-yard runs and A-back Clinton Lynch scoring on a seven-yard run.
The senior defensive tackle broke through the offensive line and had a clear shot at North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams. Then came what Johnson called the “momentum-changer”. After forcing Tech to punt, UNC got 56 seconds to try and add another to their tally before the break.
North Carolina finally put together its first scoring drive.
“When you get down 21 points you tend to worry about ‘Do we need to score every series?'” Fedora said. When Williams is at his best, he’s good DFS option. He handed off to running back T.J. Logan, who ran left and handed off to Davis on what looked like a reverse.
Larry Fedora told anyone who would listen there was no controversy and Williams had his complete trust.
Williams’ go-ahead touchdown catch came less than 4 minutes into the fourth quarter.
Williams scored what proved to be the winning touchdown on a 27-yard run with 4:52 remaining. Williams does hold the school record for rushing yards (1,708) and touchdowns (24) by a quarterback, and ranks fourth in passing yards (5,604), and Fedora is counting on a bounce-back performance against the Yellow Jackets.
“We didn’t get rattled really easy”, said sophomore running back Elijah Hood, who finished with 60 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
With North Carolina leading 38-28, the Yellow Jackets scored a field goal on their next possession. However the Jackets found a few gaps in the pass defense and exploited it with Justin Thomas going 5-5 for 70 yards a touchdown.
The first drive went 64 yards, required 10 plays and culminated in a 1-yard run by Thomas.
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Freshman Mikell Lands-Davis caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Thomas in his debut.