Last week against Pitt, the Tar Heels had to win. The Panthers were not supposed to come into Chapel Hill and walk out with a victory, and Mitch Trubisky, Ryan Switzer, and Bug Howard made sure they didn’t.
Today’s game against Florida State was a bit different. Not many people expected the Tar Heels to go into Tallahassee and emerge with a win, but that is exactly what they did. It took years off most of our lives to get there, but Nick Weiler came up in a huge moment and ruined the day of Florida State fans everywhere.
To say that it shouldn’t have been that close may downplay the situation. Florida State is obviously a talented team, and Carolina was fortunate to go up 21-0 on them. As the Seminoles chipped away at the lead, though, it felt more and more like Carolina may not have enough stops in them to pull off a win.
The first half was all Tar Heels. Dalvin Cook did get the Seminoles on the board with a touchdown run at the end of the half, but UNC was up 21-7. In the second half, the momentum was solidly on Florida State’s side. UNC had little answer for Cook, who ran for 140 yards and three scores. Every failed drive by the offense felt like THE ONE that would be the nail in the coffin.
After FSU tied the game with five minutes to go, the goal for UNC was to drive down the field, eat up the clock, and put points on the board without giving Florida State another opportunity to score. UNC took two minutes and forty seconds to score when Thomas Jackson took a Mitch Trubisky pass into the end zone. Not so fast, though. The extra point was blocked and over two minutes remained on the clock.
Clinging to their six-point lead, UNC watched as FSU marched down the field. Tackles were missed, penalties were committed, and it all culminated with Deondre Francois running it in from two yards out to put Florida State up by one point with just 23 seconds to go.
It’s kind of strange to say this, but there’s no one I’d rather have with the ball in that moment than Mitch Trubisky right now. He’s so calm under pressure, and has just continued to prove his worth as the UNC quarterback. Time was ticking down, Switzer missed a pass over the middle that was eerily similar to one he pulled in against Pitt. A timely pass interference call go the Heels farther into FSU territory, but not deep enough to be in field goal position. With four seconds left on the clock, there wasn’t enough time to get any closer. Time to kick.
Earlier in the game, Nick Weiler missed a 51-yard field goal. His career long of 49 yards came against Illinois. With the game on the line, he stepped up needing to nail it from 54 yards. Not in his range. If only they had gotten closer.
EXCEPT THAT’S NOT WHAT HAPPENED. Weiler’s kick was a beautiful one that sailed through the uprights as time expired to give the Tar Heels an unlikely win on the road after what felt like certain doom.
All at once, the running into the kicker penalty, and the almost safety, and the blocked extra point didn’t matter. They’ll matter for another time and place, but not right now. UNC snatched another last second victory away, proving that they belong mentioned with the really good programs of college football right now.
Mitch Trubisky, man. You can’t say enough about what he has done since shaking off his troubles in the Georgia game. He threw for 405 yards and three touchdowns today. Oh, and he also didn’t throw an interception. Again. He has been rock solid for the Tar Heels.
Maybe this is finally the game that gets UNC back among ranked teams. Taking down #12 on the road has to count for something there, right? Pretty difficult to ignore them at this point.
Carolina heads back to Chapel Hill next weekend for a meeting against the Virginia Tech Hokies. Until then, let’s enjoy this one. It was great.
UNC FG kicker tomahawking around Doak Campbell Stadium after kicking the game winner pic.twitter.com/z8e25yH1PD— Steve Noah (@Steve_OS) October 1, 2016