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UNC 21, NC State 33: Tar Heels come up short in the season finale in Raleigh

Carolina battled hard, but couldn’t pull off a third-straight win.

North Carolina v North Carolina State Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

At long last, it’s over.

UNC’s football team ended their season with a loss to the Wolfpack in Raleigh, which is always a disappointing sentence, but they made the game more competitive than many would have given them credit for.

State got on the scoreboard first with a three-yard run from Ryan Finley in the first quarter. There have been some kicking woes in Raleigh this season, and a missed PAT made the score 6-0. Carolina responded minutes later when Nathan Elliott found Anthony Ratliff-Williams for a 51-yard score to put the Heels on top.

A Michael Carter receiving touchdown made it 14-6 Carolina to start the second quarter, but it was after that that UNC’s offense began to sputter. As has been the case so often this season, the defense was heavily leaned on to keep the Wolfpack off the board. They did so for quite a long time, but the Carolina offense never seemed able to rebound to help them out.

Back to back touchdowns from State at the end of the third and beginning of the fourth put Carolina in a 27-14 hole. Both touchdowns came on enormous runs from Nyheim Hines for 54 and 48 yards, respectively. Carolina got one score closer when Elliott threw a one-yard pass to Jordan Cunningham to make it 27-21 with eight minutes remaining in the fourth.

An overworked UNC defense couldn’t get off the field when State got the ball back, letting the Wolfpack drain time off the clock and ultimately take the ball in for a touchdown with 1:33 left in the game. Carolina attempted to get a touchdown back in the final minute of the game, but Elliott was intercepted for the second time to ice it officially.

Say one thing for this group of guys: they never quit. With the number of injuries they sustained this season, it would have been very easy for them to mail it in. They never did. It won’t be a season full of fun memories for us as fans, but the guys on the field deserve a lot of credit for battling through an impossible level of adversity. They’ll be back.