The fourth quarter of North Carolina’s game against Duke was not fun. The loss marked the third time in four games that the Tar Heels entered the fourth quarter with a lead, but did not win the game.
UNC spent most of the first half losing, and only got a chance to go into the fourth leading thanks in large part to a pair of good catches in the final drive right before halftime.
After both Austin Proehl and Rontavius Groves both had to leave the game with injuries, Anthony Ratliff-Williams led a depleted receiving corps in catches and yards, helping keep the Tar Heels in the game. Ratliff-Williams finished with five catches for 125 yards and a touchdown, and was one of the few UNC players to really stand out.
His most notable moments in the game came right at the end of the first half. The Tar Heels got the ball with 22 seconds left after blocking a Duke field goal, and went 80 yards in 13 seconds. All 80 yards came on Ratliff-Williams’ catches. On the first play Chazz Surratt found him for a 35-yard gain, with the receiver making a nice play to get in front of a Blue Devils’ defensive back. On the very next play, he got past the secondary and in perfect position as Surratt put the pass right in his hands for a touchdown.
In addition to his 100+ receiving yards, he had another solid return game. He didn’t take back a kick off this time, but he did total 87 yards, getting him over 200 all-purpose yards for the day.
Over on the defensive side of the ball, one performer stood out and deserves some credit. MJ Stewart was able to get some pressure on quarterback Daniel Jones, sacking him once in addition to his normal mostly good play in the secondary. The loss isn’t totally on the defense, it’s just hard to give anyone on the defense too much credit when Duke went 7-18 on third down.
North Carolina’s offense did not look great for a pretty decent chunk of this game. When they did, Anthony Ratliff-Williams usually had a role in that.