This weekend, however, the shoe was so graciously moved to the other foot. Rather than allowing last week’s defeat to stifle their enthusiasm, the Heels brought an energy level into Saturday’s matchup against the wolfpack that was absolutely electric. When the team surged out of the smoke-filled tunnel decked out in all navy and fitted with brand new chrome helmets the Tar Pit went ballistic.
By the time the smoke had cleared, the scoreboard read: Carolina 15 NC State 0. The scoring pace during the first fifteen minutes of play was so blistering, in fact, that UNC’s 25 first quarter points had the student section chanting “We want biscuits!” (alluding to the Bojangles promotion during basketball season in which discounted biscuits are given away every time the hardwood Heels reach the century mark).
But then, of course, we all know what happened during the second and third quarters. The Tar Heel offense sputtered and the Carolina defensive secondary seemed entirely non-existent, conceding deep throw after deep throw to N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon. After finally reacquiring a bit of offensive rhythm in the fourth quarter and knotting the score up at 35, the Heels found themselves fielding a wolfpack punt with just 30 seconds left on the game clock.
Then lightning struck.
Gio Bernard permanently cemented his place in Carolina lore by taking the kick 74 yards to the house. Streaking out of the back of the end zone, Gio was very nearly enveloped whole by screaming fans while performing the Tar Pit equivalent of the Lambeau Leap.
In all my years as a fan, I can’t remember another moment during which Kenan Stadium was so alive. Perhaps the last-second game-winning field goal from Connor Barth in 2004 against a powerhouse Miami squad was comparable, but I think even that pales in comparison to what was experienced Saturday.
It’s not that Saturday’s game was a bigger win for the program than the Miami game in 2004 (though some may debate me on this point): the win was simply more gratifying. Why? Because it came against the wuffies, of course.
The N.C. State wolfpack: the group of fans delusional enough to believe that North Carolina is anything other than the Tar Heel State.
The fans who think this passes as an intimidating gesture.
The fans who have happily embraced this classy gent as their poster-child.
I mean really. Is it hard to understand why Carolina fans were so overjoyed to end a five-game losing streak to those guys? In his first outing against these in-state “rivals”, Coach Fedora finally released Tar Heels everywhere from the embarrassment of defeat at the hands of a lesser opponent. I can only hope Fedora’s new emphasis on locking down the state will ensure that we fans rarely have to experience the injustice of having to answer to that nuisance of a school down the road.
And here I’ll end my spiel, lest the wuffies take what little acknowledgment I’ve given them and attempt to construe it as an indication of their own importance. Because despite whatever efforts Larry Fedora may undertake to change the student culture here in Chapel Hill, one refrain will ring true above all others: “Go to hell duke!”