With thirteen UNC players suspended – eight of them starters – we thought Coach Butch Davis might need our help on the field last night at the season opener against LSU. After all I do have four full years eligibility in tact. So we suited up for the cause.
Apparently we have a pretty deep bench because we never got the nod. But we were fired up and ready to cheer the Tarheels toward a miracle victory.
We actually had some decent plays in the first half but gave up so many more BIG plays to LSU. Despite the fact our non-traveling suspended players were mostly defense, our offense was simply offensive. Poor communication, total confusion, missed snaps. The quarterback seemed like a deer caught in headlights. LSU’s #7 kept returning our kicks and running straight through us like a hot knife through butter. We went into the half with LSU at 30, Tarheels 10. It felt like the second half might get really ugly.
But our defense held things together in the 3rd quarter and kept LSU scoreless. Finally (I can’t remember when, you’d have to check Sportscenter for the details) the Carolina quarterback came to life from back in his own endzone, completing a badass pass that we ran downfield for a total 97-yards and a touchdown.
As much as I criticized Yates, the UNC quarterback, in the first half I give him full credit for leading the Heels back into this game. Like the metamorphosis of Pinocchio from a awkward wooden puppet into a real boy, Yates suddenly morphed into a real quarterback. I felt like I was watching Colt McCoy. Drilling passes into the hands of open receivers. Moving the chains. Had the tigers on their heels.
We narrowed the gap to 30-24 and had the momentum with 2+ minutes to play. Nothing disastrous or humiliating as our first-half antics, but we just couldn’t make it happen. LSU gets the ball with 1:29 on the clock.
Figuring they would run down the clock by taking a knee all the way to the buzzer, we filed out of the Georgia Dome with the masses. Bummed, but glad it wasn’t worse.
We made it about sixty feet outside the stadium when we ran into some college friends and started chatting. But we barely had time to say ‘hello’ when crowds of people starting flooding back into the stadium screaming, “We got the ball back! We got the ball back!”
We scattered to TVs just inside the Georgia Dome in disbelief, only to confirm that somehow the Heels GOT THE BALL BACK!!!!!
We all huddled in corridors to see slivers of the field and watch the Heels drill the ball relentlessly toward the endzone. It was exhilarating. We were out of our minds screaming and cheering. A few yards from the endzone and 10 seconds on the clock Yates threw it behind the receiver. AAHHHH!!!
Two seconds on the clock, Yates fires it into the hands of the receiver who was completely covered up and couldn’t hold on. Crushing. (I know, I just watched it for about the 6th time on ESPN.)
LSU Tigers win. And as one member of our group said, “Moral victories are for losers.”
That said, it was pretty damn exciting to keep them scoreless for a full half of football, seize the momentum, stage a wildly unexpected comeback, and deliver a buzzer-beater for the record books.
Great college football game. Great times with good friends. And great to be a Carolina Tarheel.
Even if I didn’t get any playing time.