So let me tell you story. After a spirited first half which saw UNC trail FSU 28-21, the Heels used a touchdown and two Casey Barth field goals to stake a 34-28 lead with six minutes left in the game. UNC, with a somewhat decent grasp on the game, lined up to punt when long snapper Mark House air mailed the ball over punter C.J. Feagles' head. Feagles chases after the ball which has come to rest on the UNC 3-yard line. With most of the FSU punt coverage team running for the ball like the Bumpus hounds after a turkey, Feagles decides to kick the ball through the back of the end zone for an apparent safety. Except kicking the ball in the field of play is patently illegal resulting in a penalty which was enforced at the spot of the foul with loss of down giving FSU the ball on the Tar Heel three. FSU promptly punched it and collects the extra point for a 35-34 lead.
UNC was not done yet. T.J. Yates who racked up his second 400-yard passing game of the season led UNC down the field on an epic drive which involved 27 rushing yards from Hunter Furr after Johnny White, Shaun Draughn and Anthony Elzy all were injured. Hunter Furr who, after Elzy was injured, Butch Davis basically scanned the players on the sideline and said "yeah he looks pretty good put him in." Hunter Furr who had two yards rushing on the season and was better known for freaking out on kick returns vs LSU than actually being capable of positive yardage. That Hunter Furr, who FSU must have thought was a decoy since they apparently decided not to defend the run in any meaningful way. And why not, it was Hunter Freaking Furr for goodness sake. No way he runs for 27 yards and gets UNC into red zone right?
Anyway, the end result of the drive was another Barth FG to put UNC ahead 37-35. This coming after UNC failed to convert on 3rd and goal from the FSU 4-yard line that included Yates losing his freaking mind and stepping out of bounds saving FSU the trouble of calling timeout. On the kickoff, UNC played it straight which was probably not a good idea. Despite containing FSU return man Greg Reid most of the day on this kickoff the players on the UNC coverage team picked the wrong time in the game to stop smoking. Reid ran the ball back to UNC 45 which, for UNC, was the worst possible result outside an outright return for a TD. FSU worked the final 44 seconds to set up fairly reliable kicker Dustin Hopkins for a 40 yard FG attempt from smack dab between the hashes. Hopkins, who went wide right earlier in the game from 42 yards, conjured up memories of some of the darkest moments in Florida St. football history. Memories of inept field goal kicking shattering national title dreams into a million pieces and versus a bitter rival no less. That's right. Hopkins went wide right...again...and UNC walked out of Tallahassee with the win for the first time in school history.
Oh and T.J. Yates set a single game record for passing yards by a UNC QB with 439 yards and Dwight Jones is so legit it is quite frankly scaring people.
This was a highly entertaining game. Both teams put on a show offensively, especially UNC and the Yates-Jones combo. Both teams also had some fairly inexplicable moments in which they made every effort to try and give the game away. In the end FSU was the more charitable of the two teams with the pair of FG misses and their share of weird penalties. FSU's gaffes trumped the illegal kick from Feagles which handed FSU an easy TD, the poor kick coverage on the final kickoff and Yates' decision to run out of bounds thus saving FSU one of their timeouts and a few seconds. Ultimately it did not matter since FSU decided to blow the game winning FG. In a season marred with bad mojo which now included Johnny White and his broken clavicle, it was nice to see someone else crap the bed to UNC's benefit.
I am not sure enough can be said about Yates. I am still in awe of the fact this is a quarterback we were all begging...BEGGING...Butch Davis to bench in favor of Bryn Renner. We were all convinced Yates would not get the job done. Yet here he is, posting his 2nd 400-yard passing game which has never happened in UNC football history. Yates now stands approximately 90o-plus yards away from breaking Darian Durants all time passing mark. In this game, Yates refused to let UNC lose with his arm while taking care of the football. Yates did not throw an INT and honestly I do not think he even came close to throwing a questionable pass. His biggest mistake of the day, aside from the out of bounds play, was just missing Ryan Taylor on a sure fired TD. Yates made plays as did Dwight Jones who many questioned whether he would ever been any good. Now you have your answer. I just wish they would make better use of Jhay Boyd and others but I think that might have something to do with the fact Yates is somewhat limited in his reads. Maybe Boyd can play running back.
As noted above, RB Johnny White is out for the season with a broken clavicle. Shaun Draughn was banged up and Anthony Elzy missed a few plays which allowed Hunter Furr to go nuts. The big question now is whether kerosene is being applied to Ryan Houston's redshirt or not. I would hope not given UNC only has four games left(Heels are now bowl eligible.) One would hope Draughn and Elzy can give you enough rushing to keep the play action effective and balance the offense. It is not like Draughn is a slouch, he was the starter last season and has run well in games this season. For now, we enjoy the win but it should surprise no one that nothing this season is going to come easy.