For the second straight year, UNC completed a late-game comeback against Wake Forest to take down the Demon Deacons. This year, a little more was on the line for Wake as they were ranked ninth in the nation with an undefeated record. Although it doesn’t have any ACC implications, because reasons, it’s still a feather in the cap of a UNC team that has struggled this season.
We were promised a shootout and we got just that with both teams combining for 113 points. Carolina’s offense put up an astounding 24 points in the fourth quarter to take a late lead while the defense limited the Deacons to their worst quarter of the game at the most opportune time with just one touchdown in the final minute. Wake Forest attempted an onside kick to make things extra interesting, but it was batted out of bounds by UNC to allow the Heels to kneel the final seconds off the clock.
Ty Chandler was an absolute superstar on the field, running for 213 yards and four scores. He gave the Tar Heels some much-needed breathing room with a 50-yard run to the house with 1:12 left in the game that looked even more important after the late touchdown from the Deacs. Sam Howell ran for 104 yards and two touchdowns while throwing for another with 216 yards in the air. He had no picks. It was all part of a 546-yard effort for the offense, which felt like it might not be enough until the late surge.
The defense has been understandably ragged on a lot this season, but they did enough to come away with the victory today. Cam’ron Kelly had two interceptions and Storm Duck’s return to the field had an immediate positive effect as he played a major role in the defensive stand in the fourth quarter. All of this was done without the impact of Jeremiah Gemmel, who got tossed out of the game early on a targeting call. Gemmel plays such a huge role in this defense and they looked a bit lost without him for two quarters before getting themselves together at a fortuitous time late.
Penalties ran rampant for both teams, with a lot of unsportsmanlike calls being thrown around. The biggest factor was that Wake Forest turned the ball over one more time than UNC did and Carolina scored two touchdowns directly off Wake giveaways.
Even if Wake Forest made it here undefeated on the backs of inferior competition, it’s still good to see this team be able to hand someone their first loss of the season, and there’s never a bad time to beat a team ranked in the top 10. I’m sure there will be some ribbing about students rushing the field against Literally Wake Forest, but this season has been a trying time for everyone and we’re entitled to have a little fun after a game like that.
Carolina will try to keep the good juju rolling on Thursday when they hit the road to take on another ranked team in Pitt.