This is more like it.
There have been a couple of consistencies for the Heels under Davis to date. UNC's rushing defense is going to start out slow, the offense will sputter on its opening drive, and then the Heels have two, two and a half quarters to put the game way before the inevitable fourth quarter fade occurs. If they can't build up that margin, as what happened against Virginia Tech, it becomes an agonizing spiral to a loss, so when Carolina gave up a touchdown to go down 24-14 with ten minutes remaining, I figured I knew the script.
Happily, I was wrong.
UNC's defense buckled down, even when faced with unenviable starting positions, getting an interception and stuffed Graig Cooper, forcing a four and out where previously they folded against the Hokies. Cam Sexton put together UNC's longest scoring drive of the season in just one pass, but more impressively strung together a series with only 2:49 remaining to take the lead. And even though the Heels couldn't stop Miami from getting one last shot at the endzone, Trimane Goddard got his second interception and a lifetime of Hurricane enmity by snatching a game-winning touchdown practically out of Kayne Farquharson's hands.
There are still more than few concerns. The penalty situation was better but still bizarrely frustrating - when was the last time you even saw an offensive face mask committed? There were other mental lapses, like Brandon Tate's fielding of a kickoff headed out of bounds at the Heels' three that happily was bailed out by an errant foot. Both sides of the ball were rocked by the Canes' physical play early, and Graig Cooper's early success was incredibly disheartening. And let's not even get into the special teams disaster that gave Miami the ball on Carolina's ten.
UNC seems to have settled on a quarterback though, as Cam Sexton took the reins from Mike Paulus and showed why he was once the starter. More importantly, after so many fourth quarter losses last season - seven by a touchdown or less - it's nice to see the Heels finish, and step up to take their place in a resurgent Coastal Division. Miami's a better team than I expected, with Cooper coming along and Robert Marve quickly ending the quarterback-by-committee. With the Atlantic in absolute freefall the next couple of weeks look very good for Carolina's chances.
I'm still waiting on the videos of shocked Hurricane fans to hit YouTube, by the way.