While doing research for another article, I came across a strange record in the North Carolina football media guide. The record for the lowest combined passing yardage in a game in involving UNC is -13, which the Heels (-7) and Penn (-6) in a game in 1943.
Now, yes, 1943 is closer to the advent of the forward pass. It wasn’t used anything remotely close to the frequency it is in the modern era. According to the Daily Tar Heel article about that game, it was also snowing that day in Philadelphia. That being said....-13 yards combined? Even for 1943, that is an impressive level of incompetency. Thankfully, both teams managed something on the ground, as UNC upset a ranked Penn team 9-6.
Finding this game in the media guide got me thinking: what other ridiculous single game football records can we find in it?
The next one that truly stood out was was the record for most turnovers/fumbles in a single game. In a 1915 game against VMI, UNC fumbled the ball 16 times and lost 14 of them. Not surprisingly, Carolina did not win. However, they also did not lose, as the game finished in a 3-3 tie. Remarkably, according to the Daily Tar Heel account of the game, there’s no mention of any extraordinary weather conditions, so we have to assume every UNC player dipped their hands in Crisco every chance they got. It should also be noted that the DTH article says UNC fumbled 19 times. I’m assuming the media guide has the right number and the article just had a 1915 version of a typo, but it might’ve been even worse.
The rushing version of the passing yards record that led to this post didn’t get into the negative, but it is still fairly remarkable.
In a 1996 game against Louisville, the Tar Heels and the Cardinals combined to rush for just 21 yards, with UNC’s defense holding UL to just one. A good Carolina team, who had averaged over 40 points in the four previous games, won 28-10 thanks to an acceptable passing performance and a defensive touchdown.
Pick sixes aren’t something you’re guaranteed to see in a given game. In 2016, UNC went well into the season without recording any interception at all, never mind returning one for a touchdown. Bill Maceyko had two pick sixes in a game against Maryland in 1948, setting the school record.
Two in a game might not sound insanely crazy, however it is not only the single game record, it’s also tied for the record for the most in a season, so it kinda is. Also thanks to the NCAA’s habit of wiping records after violations, Maceyko is also technically tied for the school record for most pick sixes in a career. However, it should be noted that Kendric Burney had three over the course of his career, it’s just that because the seasons it happened in, those records were wiped.
Another interesting turnover one is the record for most committed by UNC in a game they won. On two separate occasions, a Carolina team has committed eight turnovers in a game they won. The most interesting of the two was probably a 1939 game against Virginia.
What makes that game especially wild is that the Heels shut out UVA, winning 19-0. Turnovers can often be the cause of strange or unexpected wins just because of the field position flips they can cause. At least on that day, it seems no matter how many turnovers they committed or what field position they gave up, UNC was just not losing to the Cavaliers.
There are undoubtedly more interesting ones that could be unearthed in the media guide, but those were the ones that really stood out. Other than the pick sixes one, I’m not sure I want to see UNC break any of the records, but it would be interesting at least.