Photo courtesy of GoHeels.com
CHAPEL HILL– What a sweet bus ride down I-40 it was for the Tar Heels on Saturday. Head Coach Larry Fedora’s boys beat N.C.State 27-19 on the road to make it two straight victories in this bitter rivalry series.
It was Carolina’s first win at Carter-Finley Stadium since 2005. Coach Fedora says he was proud of the performance, especially with the “bend don’t break” mentality of the defense.
“We outlasted them. We created a lot of adversity for ourselves throughout the game. I thought our defense did an outstanding job of making them kick field goals throughout the day and kept us in this game all the way through. […] Overall, a pretty good game,” Coach Fedora says.
Quarterback Bryn Renner’s ill-timed interception on the opening series of the contest helped the Wolfpack dart out to a quick 10-0 lead. The Tar Heels could have folded up the tent. Coach Fedora credits Carolina’s resiliency to focused mental preparation.
“We had talked about going into this game what was going to happen. And it happened. Whether we went up or down, there were going to be a lot of ups and downs in the game. It’s typical of this game. We knew it didn’t matter. If we went up or down, I said just play it the same way with the same emotion, the same enthusiasm and the same energy,” Coach Fedora says.
What does the victory mean for the football program? Coach Fedora says the fighting Tar Heels just took another important step in getting to where they want to be.
“It means something to come over here and win in their stadium. That’s pretty big. They had a great crowd and were into the game the entire game. But our guys kept fighting. It’s just another step for our program in this state,” Coach Fedora says.
UNC compiled 427 yards of total offense against N.C.State. One of the main contributors to the success was the dynamic play of sophomore quarterback Marquise Williams. Williams led Carolina’s ground attack in total yardage for the third time in the last four games.
The always energetic Williams says there’s no doubting just how special this victory was.
“It’s so special. This was not for us. This was for our seniors. It felt great just to come in here and get a victory. It’s sweet because you can ‘shhh’ the crowd. You don’t have to hear nothing else from State the rest of the year. Our state? I think it’s North Carolina. This is our state because we beat them back-to-back,” Williams says.
Yes, many Wolfpack fans sported their “This Is Our State” shirts, buttons, and flags on game day. But at the end of the day, Coach Fedora says North Carolina has always been and will always be The Tar Heel State.
“Believe me, this team, this University, and all of our fans take a lot of pride in that. As far as I know it’s always been The Tar Heel State and always will be,” Coach Fedora says.
Can the Tar Heels make it three straight? Next up for this surging Carolina squad will be a Homecoming contest this Saturday against the struggling Virginia Cavaliers.