UNC’s game on the road in Atlanta was an easy one to circle at the beginning of the year as a game that might trip up the Tar Heels. Even as the team was riding an undefeated streak through the beginning of their schedule, the date against the Yellow Jackets loomed large.
That was all before Carolina lost in embarrassing fashion to Virginia a week ago. It was easy to think that maybe they got caught looking a bit ahead, thinking they could just roll over the Cavaliers. Unfortunately, last week’s loss did nothing to mitigate the house of horrors that is Bobby Dodd Stadium for UNC as they dropped a second straight game, 46-42.
Georgia Tech needed just two quarters to score their 46 points. Carolina held them off the scoreboard in the first and third quarters, but the defense looked honestly inept against the Yellow Jackets’ offense. It proved to be more than the offense, even with 310 passing yards from Drake Maye, could overcome.
Carolina had a chance to win the game, even after the Yellow Jackets took a lead late in the fourth quarter. The offense got the ball back with the potential for a game-winning drive, but that potential came to a screeching halt when Tez Walker hauled in a pass from Maye and turned up field before being absolutely steamrolled by a defender he never saw coming. Walker fumbled the ball and then stayed down on the field for a long time before being helped off the field. Tech recovered and was able to pick up enough yards to run out the clock, even with Carolina having three timeouts remaining.
The fact that UNC even found themselves in that situation is frustrating considering how the game began. Omarion Hampton was able to exploit one of the nation’s worst run defenses for 153 yards and two touchdowns in the game. Forty-two points is going to be enough to win you a lot of football games, so it’s hard to pin this one on the offense. The defense just had zero answer for Haynes King and his four passing touchdowns and 348 yards on the ground.
The loss hurts, but all attention now goes to the status of Walker. Without him, the Heels are in trouble offensively. The defense has really fallen short of expectations against two teams with losing records two weeks in a row now, and the schedule does not get easier down the stretch. Carolina has gone from arguing for a spot among the nation’s best handful of teams to a team that could very easily miss out on even playing for the ACC Championship game.
Carolina takes on Campbell next week before battling for the victory bell in Chapel Hill the following week in a game that will look a lot different than everyone thought it might a couple weeks ago.