Saturday, November 13, 2010

Good start doesn't translate to good game for Tar Heels

North Carolina has been a slow-starting, good finishing team this year. That all changed in a 26-10 loss to Virginia Tech in Chapel Hill.

On Carolina's opening drive, the Tar Heels combined a good mix of running and passing and featured a scramble by quarterback T.J. Yates for a first down inside the two. Anthony Elzy, who was starting in place of injured Johnny White, went in for the score to cap an 80-yard drive to put the Heels up 7-0.

Except for a field goal, that was it for the Tar Heels the rest of the way as drives were stalled or ended by penalties or turnovers (Carolina had six).

Carolina managed to lead an evenly contested game at the half by a 10-9 score. But the second half, particularly the third quarter, was disastrous for the Heels. In the first nine games this season, Carolina had outscored opponents 113-59. This time, the Heels were outscored 17-0 in the third period as VT quarterback Tyrod Taylor hit Marcus Davis with a pair of touchdown passes.

The turning point actually seemed to happen in the second quarter. UNC receiver Erik Highsmith and VT safety Eddie Whitley both came down with a Yates pass in the end zone but Whitley wrestled it away for the interception.

“I think that was a gigantic play and a great play," Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "Two guys go up and he comes down. That’s why I talk about battling, just battling for the ball. I think that was the key, key play in the ball game."

The Heels did manage to drive into the Hokies' territory a couple of times in the fourth quarter but turned it over, once on an Elzy fumble at the two.

Yates, coming off his best game of the season, had by far his worst game of the season as he threw four interceptions.

Virginia Tech is almost guaranteed the division title while Carolina falls to 6-4 and 3-3 in the conference with its final two games against rivals N.C. State and Duke.

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