There are moments in every fan’s life that make their die-hard support for their team totally worth it. These moments may not happen every year, every other year, or even every five years, but they will happen. As a Carolina football fan, these moments have been few and far between. There have been big wins and exciting plays, but very seldom is there a moment where you think back on it and can’t help but smile. One of those moments happened on Saturday afternoon in Kenan stadium. One of those “I remember where I was when that happened” moments. One of those “I could not be prouder to be a Tar Heel” moments.
These moments give you an indescribable feeling that can only be achieved when your team does something incredible. Giovani Bernard bringing the punt back against NC State. Connor Barth kicking a game-winning field goal against Miami. And now, Bug Howard’s catch against Pittsburgh. These are why fans spend the money to go to the games, read the articles about projected depth charts in the spring, and analyze how 18-22 year olds are going to change a season. It’s moments like these that make you hug a complete stranger or call your mom or dad to scream about how much you love Ryan Switzer and Mitch Trubisky. Without these moments there is no reason to be a fan, no reason to care so much about something bigger than yourself, no reason to devote so much of yourself to a team.
North Carolina’s 17-play game-winning drive was incredible. Time and time again Carolina looked done, and time and time again they came back from the dead. Three improbable fourth down conversions to Ryan “the Pitt-killer” Switzer and Austin Proehl culminated with a miraculous, almost impossible, one-handed Bug Howard catch with two seconds to go. Nick Weiler’s extra point a few moments later gave North Carolina a 37-36 lead, their first of the game. To win a game in that dramatic fashion, leading only for two seconds, is about as awesome as it gets.
Being a North Carolina football fan has not always been easy. There has been disappointment after disappointment, most recently in the game against Georgia. But when Bug Howard came down with the ball, everything went away. Being a Carolina football fan was the greatest thing ever. Being a Carolina football fan was so worth it.
Larry Fedora has given North Carolina fans a football team that produces more and more of these moments. He has created a culture at Carolina where his teams truly do have each other’s backs. A comeback win against Georgia Tech and an overtime win against Virginia Tech last year come to mind when thinking about some awesome moments in Fedora’s tenure. This one, however, just felt different. Carolina seemed like they were out of it all game, and they just refused to quit.
The North Carolina defense, who couldn’t stop a nose bleed all game, made three crucial stops to give Mitch Trubisky and company a chance. The offense put up just enough points to cover up for the countless mistakes on defense. Fedora and his staff have brought a tenacity and a desire for greatness that is matched by his players. There are times where play calls may be questioned, but it is hard to question what Larry Fedora brings to the Carolina football program. He is going to bring 110 percent, and he expects the same effort from his guys.
This effort and intensity makes it easy to love the Tar Heels. They play hard and they win. North Carolina has won 14 of their last 15 regular season games, including their last nine at home. This makes it absolutely inexcusable for so many fans to leave early. Over the past two years the Tar Heels have been fantastic and have delivered some pretty awesome moments. They leave it all on the field and deserve the same effort out of their fans.
Saturday provided one of the more awesome moments in recent Carolina football history, and this comes as no surprise. Larry Fedora has created a tough-nosed culture at North Carolina. A get punched, get back up, and punch back harder mentality. That is why the amazing happened on Saturday, and that is why there are sure to be plenty more of these incredible moments.