For the second straight year, Carolina’s football season came to an end with a 9 in the loss column. For the third straight year, it ended with a loss to N.C. State. And for the third time this season, Carolina blew a fourth-quarter lead to lose a game late.
To add insult to injury, there was a fight after State scored the game-winning touchdown, which Twitter seems to be blaming on Carolina’s players.
Reggie Gallaspy tallied 129 yards and five rushing touchdowns for the Pack, and Ryan Finley finished his N.C. State career with zero passing TD’s against the Heels— and three wins.
For Carolina, Cade Fortin started 2 of 12 for 15 yards on the strength of five drops by Tar Heels receivers, but finished 19 of 40 for 276 yards, 1 TD, and one pick (right off the hands of Beau Corrales). His performance would leave one wondering why he wasn’t the starter way back in the season opener, but I digress.
The first half was largely a slapfight, as the first quarter’s only points were scored via a Gallaspy rush following a thrilling one yard punt by Hunter Lent. Two second-quarter Freeman Jones field goals narrowed the halftime margin to 7-6.
The big story early was the case of the drops by Carolina receivers. Officially, there were six, but at least two more Cade Fortin passes were eminently catchable. He had the prettiest 7/21, 61 yard, one pick performance this blogger has ever seen. The Heels outgained the Wolfpack 125-92 in the first two quarters.
(Yes, you read that right, the North Carolina Tar Heels’ defense under Larry Fedora held an FBS opponent under 100 total yards in a half of football.)
The third quarter was a different sport, as the teams exchanged completely on-brand touchdown drives: State on a 12-play jaunt, and a 3-play, 78 yard answer by Carolina. 75 yards on eight plays for State, then 75 on six for Carolina. The Heels got the two-point conversion on the latter, tying the game at 21.
The Heels struck first in the fourth quarter on a Cade Fortin keeper to give Carolina the 28-21 lead, and the teams exchanged empty drives before the Wolpfack tied it at 28 after a long review on a Jakobi Meyers catch, and a piss poor pass interference call on Patrice Rene. Reggie Gallaspy’s 4th touchdown of the day was regulation’s final score.
For the game, the Heels outgained the Pack 429-406, had no major defensive busts for the first time all season, and played coherently on both sides of the ball.
Unfortunately, none of that was sufficient to get a win.
Bigger picture, it remains to be seen what an inspired performance does for Larry Fedora’s employment status. The Heels are 5-21 in their last 26 games, so stay tuned.