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UNC 37, Syracuse 40: Defeat snatched from the jaws of victory in double overtime

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The Tar Heels were practically gift wrapped a win. They refused to take it.

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Syracuse Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

UNC scored on their opening drive for just the second time this season.

The Tar Heels responded to Syracuse taking the lead by scoring 20 unanswered points to take a fourth quarter lead.

Carolina picked off Syracuse’s quarterback, who replaced their starting QB, with a chance to get a late game-winning touchdown.

The above are just a few of the examples of success that make writing about this game as a loss just inexcusably frustrating. How did they manage to lose this one when all the stars aligned in their favor?

The play calling. It’s really as simple as that. UNC was mind-numbingly bad in the red zone. The offensive play calling was a series of poor decisions for most of the game. A number of points were left on the board for the sake of...well, I couldn’t tell you, but it was preventable.

Nathan Elliott had a great game for the Heels. He threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns and no interceptions. How did this end in a loss?

Dazz NEWSOME was outstanding, hauling in seven receptions for 99 yards and a score in addition to taking a punt return to the house at a point when it looked like UNC was slipping late. That return set things in motion that would put UNC back in a strong position to win. They did not win.

Patrice Rene came up with a crucial interception that breathed life into Carolina’s chances to win the game. They were more than set up to be able to attempt a field goal that would effectively end the game...until the play calling happened and the drive stalled.

I don’t want to talk about things this way. I’ve loved the Heels all my life and I get no pleasure out of having to be so negative. However, enough is enough. Today’s game was a winnable game on the road, a chance to prove beating Pitt was more than just a fluke. Instead, the game was more of the same as last week: another disappointment in a long line of disappointments this season.

I don’t put the blame on the players. It’s obvious that they are playing their hearts out on the field. The adults in charge of telling them what to do aren’t putting them in the best position to win week in and week out and it’s past the point of no return.

UNC could have won today. They should have won today. The fact that they didn’t isn’t new, but it should be another piece of evidence that the current structure of the coaching staff just isn’t working.

Not to be lost in the frustration of today’s game, Antoine Green went down with what appeared to be a broken ankle. It was a gruesome injury that we hope he can return from very soon. All the good thoughts in the world for him as he recovers.