Friday, October 30, 2009

HEELS OUTLAST HOKIES

Butch Davis’ North Carolina Tar Heels came to Blacksburg not only win less in ACC play, but also a 15.5 point underdog to the #14 Hokies. The Heels (5-4, 1-3 ACC) left a hushed Lane Stadium with an improbable last second 20-17 victory after Casey Barth (who appears here to be every bit of 15-years-old) made a chip shot field goal (21 yards) on the final play of the game. The game winning drive was set up by a fumble by Virginia Tech’s super frosh Ryan Williams.

Williams who entered the night with five 100 yard games, needed just a few more yards to break the threshold yet again when he fumbled at the N.C. 24 yard line with just 2:02 left to play with the score tied 17-17. The outstanding halfback was inconsolable as he sensed his error had doomed his team’s chances on a Halloween themed evening.

The Tar Heel defense, which had collapsed in the second half against Florida State a week earlier, kept the Hokies (5-3, 3-2) at bay while UNC’s herky-jerky offense found a way to put up enough points to win.

A week after Tech head coach Frank Beamer was embroiled in a controversy over uncalled penalties in a loss to Georgia Tech, the officials again could not avoid the spotlight. Both Hokie touchdowns were very close calls that were quickly reviewed and let stand while a questionable interference call helped fuel the Heels’ game tying drive.

"I've never really had this feeling before," UNC QB T.J. Yates said after making several key completions and throwing one horrific pick deep in his own territory that led to the Hokies second touchdown. "Kicking it at the last second? It just sends chills down your spine." Yates was 18 for 28 and 131 yards and two touchdowns while his “never really had this feeling before” quote speaks volumes about the tradition of Tar Heel football futility. Yates is a junior.

Of the 66,223 crammed into Lane Stadium a rock solid 60,000 left unhappy stunned by the final minutes of the game. But no one felt worse than Williams, who started the night averaging 119 rushing yards, gained 96 and was hoping to lead the team down the field to a win until he lost the ball.

"As of right now, there probably isn't really anything they can say to lift me up because regardless of what anybody says, personally I feel like I kind of took the game away from us today," Williams said. "It was on the line, it was in my hands and I fumbled."

Virginia Tech opened the game gaining 45 yards on the first two plays of the game and seemed primed for another big Thursday night. But Jarrett Boykin fumbled after a 20-yard reception on the second play and the Tar Heels recovered, a harbinger of things to come.

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