The demons that always seem to present themselves when UNC plays Clemson were present Saturday night as Carolina dropped their game on the road in sloppy and frustrating fashion, 31-20.
It seemed like every glimmer of hope was met with a swift kick in the pants. Some of it was self-inflicted, like repeated false start penalties and two fumbles from Omarion Hampton, who hadn’t fumbled all year. There were some rather questionable calls that will get a fair amount of attention, but the bottom line is that Carolina refused to get out of their own way.
Drake Maye’s numbers were less than stellar with 209 yards and one touchdown. He threw a game-sealing interception with just over 2:30 left on the clock with any comeback already feeling pretty unlikely. Hampton chewed up a lot of the yardage, nearing 200 yards on the ground with two scores, but the two fumbles were absolute killers.
All of the counting stats were actually pretty even for these two teams, but Clemson executed better when it mattered. There was no one thing that went wrong, but rather death by a thousand cuts. Seemingly everything broke the wrong way for the Tar Heels.
Going on the road and beating Clemson was always going to be a tough ask, no matter whether the Tar Heels were coming into this game undefeated or not, or whether or not Clemson’s record was shiny. The loss brings the Tigers’ winning streak to six games against the Tar Heels. Unfortunately, this is another reminder of what could have and maybe should have been with this season that has taken a hard left into disappointing.
UNC finishes the regular season next week in Raleigh against NC State.