Missed opportunities. Lots of them.
An appropriate theme of the night as UNC squandered a number of opportunities to pull off a monumental upset of Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. Carolina turned an opening turnover into a touchdown, and had the ball at the 5-yard line with a chance to go up 14-0. Then Ryan Houston fumbled the ball away and the next 2 1/2 quarters were filled with miscues, poor play, atrocious kicking, crucial injuries, questionable coaching calls, and even more questionable officiating that led to 24 unanswered Hokie points. Carolina could not catch a break and looked on the verge of phoning it in and letting VT roll all over them.
Then, as in the first 9 minutes, the Heels caught fire on a bitterly cold and blustery night as Bryn Renner found Erik Highsmith for a touchdown to cut the lead to 24-14. After a possibly ill-advised onside kick, UNC's defense held and Renner led Carolina 90 yards for a Houston touchdown run, and just like that it was 24-21. But in a perfect summation to the night for the Heels, Carolina recovered the ensuing onside kick but it did not travel the required 10 yards and Tech was able to run out the clock.
Much will be rightfully made about the two missed field goals by freshman Thomas Moore into a stiff wind (although to be fair, neither was exactly a chip shot) or the Houston fumble that cost the Heels points, but UNC's lackluster play and poor execution for the middle 2/3 of the game are just as much to blame. In other words, UNC was who they have been all season. On the other hand, Carolina deserves a lot of credit for not giving up after losing leading rusher Gio Bernard to a concussion and falling behind 24-7. Again, this team has been remarkably resilient.
But that and a dollar will get you a drink from the soda machine. In the end, Carolina whiffed on a great chance to pull out a huge win, as they lose their 3rd game of the year by less than a touchdown. UNC has now dropped their 4th game out of their last five. UNC hopes to end the skid with Duke coming to town next weekend.