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UNC vs. Miami: Player of the Game - Cedric Gray

Gray isn’t the hero Carolina deserves, but he was the hero Carolina needed.

NCAA Football: Miami at North Carolina Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

As Tanya noted in last night’s game summary, Cedric Gray saved Carolina’s bacon in a thrilling 45-42 win over the hapless Hurricanes. UNC’s offense disappeared in the fourth quarter, and Miami had all of the momentum, field position, and poised quarterback play to snatch the lead with less than a minute left in the game.

In a play similar in field position and time to the 2019 Duke game, Cedric Gray came down with a ball that was swatted by Jeremiah Gemmel to stop Miami’s drive just when it looked like the Heels had no answers.

It was a huge play, as Miami was well within field goal range, but the Hurricanes wanted to win the game. Gray came up with the ball on the UNC 19-yard line, not quite Heels on the goal line the way Surratt did, but no less crucial.

Gray’s first interception should have been enough for the Heels to pull away. Up 21-10 with Miami’s touchdown coming from a Howell pick-six, UNC was dictating play and had stopped two Miami drives, and held them to a field goal on a third. Gaining an extra possession over Miami when they weren’t producing six points on offense should have been the kiss of death.

Once Ty Chandler punched in his second touchdown of the afternoon to put the Heels up 28-10, Gray and the defense should have spent the rest of the game straight chilling. As Carolina fans are now fully aware of, we can’t have nice things and were forced to sweat for the rest of the game.

Fortunately, the defense stood tall when it mattered most.

Clearly, both sides of the ball need work. The bye comes at a perfect time. More player-led discussions need to be held before making the flight to South Bend, but Cedric Gray can hold his head high. More than just about anyone, he saved the day for Carolina.