Sunday, September 26, 2010

First drive of second half plus key pressure on QB leads to UNC win

North Carolina drove 80 yards in 14 plays on its first drive of the second half and the defense came up with five sacks and a pair of interceptions as the Tar Heels won at Rutgers, 17-13.

Down 10-0 early and 10-7 at the half, UNC's T.J. Yates led the Heels on the go-ahead drive, which included four third-down conversions.

On third-and-11 at his own 33, Yates threw a sharp, accurate 28-yard sideline pass to Jheranie Boyd to keep the drive alive. On third-and-5 from the Rutgers 35, Yates took a step back from center and hit a sprinting Dwight Jones on a play that went 18 yards.

On third-and-12 from the 18-yard-line, Carolina took advantage of an obvious pass interference for another first down - this time at the 11.

On third-and-4 from the five, Yates hit Ryan Taylor, who bulled into the end zone after slanting across the middle. (He lost the handle on the ball after crossing the goal.)

The Tar Heels took their first lead at 14-10 after the seven-minute drive and never trailed again as the defense held on.

With Rutgers within a point at 14-13 in the fourth quarter, UNC's Bruce Carter blocked a punt and the Heels ended up at the Rutgers 35. The offense moved it down but settled for a Casey Barth 26-yard field goal to up the lead to 17-13.

UNC's Quinton Coples picked up two of this three quarterback sacks on the ensuing Rutgers drive but the Scarlet Knights still managed to drive to the UNC 19 before Matt Merletti came up with a drive-ending interception.

Rutgers got one more chance with a couple of minutes left but Carolina's defense stopped them on four downs. On third down, UNC's Tydreke Powell came up with the Heels' fifth sack. Carolina ran out the clock.

Random Thoughts: Yates, who went 22 of 30 for 204 yards, has quelled thoughts of Bryn Renner taking over the QB position. He is having an excellent season and would be more highly acclaimed if the Heels had managed to win against LSU or Georgia Tech.

Rutgers is not as good as LSU or Georgia Tech and the Tar Heels should probably have handled them a little easier. They very well might have had Rutgers not owned an 11-minute time of possession advantage. If not for that long Carolina drive at the beginning of the second half, Rutgers would have really had a large possession advantage. Two fumbles and an interception off the hands of a receiver ended drives early for Carolina.

The Tar Heels allowed only 244 yards of total offense, including just 98 yards in the second half.

There's really no excuse that television misses the first half of the opening quarter. With technology, those of us in North Carolina and New Jersey should be able to be switched to the start of the game. The Maryland game, which had a long official review with two minutes left and the Terrapins owning a two-touchdown advantage, was virtually over yet viewers were stuck with that game. ESPN does not allow enough time between games when setting the schedule.

The announcers seemingly couldn't talk enough about UNC linebacker Bruce Carter. They loved calling him "The Freak" over and over. He did have a very good game with a blocked punt and an impressive interception return. He was portrayed almost as a one-man defense yet Coples had three sacks, nine tackles and QB hurry while Quan Sturdivant had a game-high 12 tackles.

And let's stop all the talk about Carter, or anyone else for that matter, playing on Sundays in the NFL. College football fans and fans of Carolina, for the most part, couldn't care less about who plays in the NFL next year or the year after. It's all about this team, this season, this game, this down. That kind of talk minimizes college ball.

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