The North Carolina football team rallied past Pittsburgh 40-35 Saturday afternoon thanks to a four-touchdown performance from quarterback Marquise Williams that electrified the Kenan Stadium crowd and evened the Tar Heels’ record at 5-5 overall and 3-3 in ACC play.
With the loss, the Panthers dropped to 4-6 on the year and 2-4 in conference play.
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Williams’ key fourth-down conversion kept the final drive alive for the Tar Heels and allowed for T.J. Logan to punch the ball in the end zone for the go-ahead score with 50 ticks remaining on the clock.
The win was absolutely vital for Carolina’s postseason chances. UNC head coach Fedora says he was happy with the perseverance of his team Saturday afternoon.
“We had a lot of guys who were very resilient and persevered when things didn’t look good. We were really positive all the time on the sideline with each other. No matter what mistakes were made, there was a lot of encouragement. They just kept playing. We talked about it during the week […] that if we stay together, we’ll be all right. We found a way to get the win,” Coach Fedora says.
In total, Williams tallied 276 yards and one touchdown through the air and racked up 122 yards on the ground with three scores. Logan led all UNC running backs with 92 yards and a touchdown that sealed the victory.
Pitt’s prolific running back James Conner didn’t disappoint. The sophomore churned out 220 yards and scored four touchdowns to lead the Panther offensive attack.
The Panthers shot out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter thanks to a pair of Conner touchdown runs, one for 56 yards and another from 16 yards out.
From there, the Tar Heels answered. A 23-yard dash on a keeper by Williams cut the deficit down to 14-7 with 12:03 on the second quarter clock.
But Pitt responded right back with a 50-yard touchdown pass from Chad Voytik to Tyler Boyd to extend their edge out to 21-7 with 6:57 left in the half.
A late scoring drive that served as the longest of UNC’s season, ended with a 2-yard touchdown by Williams around the end. But a failed two-point conversion attempt had the halftime scoreboard reading 21-13 in favor of the visitors from Pittsburgh.
In the second half, a 63-yard connection from Williams to Switzer narrowed the gap to a mere two points with 13:48 in the third quarter.
The Tar Heels got things clicking on offense, finding rhythm and distributing the ball effectively in a typically up-tempo manner.
But with 3:33 left in the game, Conner dashed into the end zone for his fourth score and gave his Panthers the 35-34 edge.
As it turns out, there was far too much time on the clock. UNC answered the bell with a gutsy drive that included a fourth down conversion from Williams and ultimately ended with the game-winning Logan rushing touchdown that sealed the 40-35 win.
Star signal caller Williams says he had no doubts about his ability to come up with the goods in his team’s final drive.
“If a team goes down to score and we have maybe three minutes to go, I go down to the right far end zone, stand by myself and get my thoughts together. I tell myself that I practice this every Wednesday. I told myself I’m going to win this two-minute drill for the team. It felt good,” Williams says.
Next up for the Tar Heels comes a short week of practice before a nationally-televised contest against 8-2 rival Duke Thursday night at Wallace Wade Stadium.
The 4-5 North Carolina football team desperately needs a Homecoming win against the 4-5 Pittsburgh Panthers Saturday. The 12:30 p.m. kickoff inside Kenan Stadium will feature one of the nation’s premier running backs, and he’s not playing for the Tar Heels.
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The Panthers are playing an old-school brand of power football that Pittsburgh fans enjoy and opposing ACC defenses lament.
UNC head coach Larry Fedora puts it bluntly, saying the Tar Heels have two choices this weekend – man up or take a beating.
“You have to come with a mentality that you’re going to match the physicality. If you don’t, you’re going to get embarrassed,” Coach Fedora says.
Sophomore wide receiver Ryan Switzer says the five losses have been hard to swallow, but the upperclassmen leadership is holding the team together with the stretch run of the season to come.
“It’s hard to stay positive when you have five losses. But that’s where the seniors and leaders on this team come into play. That’s how they earn their titles as leaders when we’re struggling. It’s our job as a team to stay positive. We have three big games left to finish the season,” Switzer says.
The star attraction for the Panthers is running back James Conner, who’s already racked up over 1,300 yards on the ground this year.
Coach Fedora says the Panther offense can wear out opposing defenses and will offer a severe challenge to the struggling Tar Heel unit.
“He’s [Conner] a big 6’ 2”, 250-pound guy that can go. They lead him with a 270-pound fullback and are really big up front. The quarterback is doing a nice job and then you’ve got the [Tyler] Boyd kid that makes all kinds of plays out at wide receiver for them. We’ve got our work cut out for us,” Coach Fedora says.
Coach Fedora is under no illusions. He doesn’t expect his defense to completely shut down a runner as talented as Conner, but he says the Tar Heels will have to limit his damage and come up big on third downs.
“I don’t know if you can go into the game and say you’re going to stop the run. We have to control the run. We have to be effective, force them into third downs and then get off the field on third down,” Coach Fedora says.
The Kenan scoreboard operators best be prepared for some fireworks Saturday.
Former Panther quarterback and current color analyst for Pitt radio Pat Bostick says although the game will feature two strong offenses, they both go about their business in very different ways.
“It’s two different styles. Carolina is going to run plays at a fever pace. They want to run fast. They want to run 75-80 plays a game and possess the ball for less than 25 minutes. Pitt’s going to want to do the opposite by running the football and score points running the football. The key for both of them is protecting the ball,” Bostick says.
Switzer, for one, recognizes the urgency surrounding this time of year. He says the Tar Heels need to take full advantage of each play on the football field with the finish line looming large.
“We don’t get to get these games back. It’s important for us to go into the next three games with that mindset. I feel like that will help us all as a team. You’re definitely not promised another game. We need to make sure that we don’t take these last few for granted and play with everything we have,” Switzer says.
Against a rugged Panther football team that likes to use ball control to eat up the clock with long, sustained drives, Coach Fedora says junior quarterback Marquise Williams and company must be efficient on offense to emerge victorious.
“They’re going to get in their base fronts and play football. They’re going be very sound, tackle well and be where they’re supposed to be. They’re going to make you beat them. We have to execute on offense to be able to do it. We have to get back to playing football the way we play it,” Coach Fedora says.
The Tar Heels lead the all-time series against the Panthers on the gridiron by a 5-3 margin and snagged the most recent meeting in 2013 – a 34-27 victory spurred on by a pair of Switzer punt returns that went the distance.
With both squads needing to win two of their final three games to qualify for the postseason, the stakes will be high Saturday afternoon in Kenan Stadium.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-football-team-must-match-pitts-physicality/
WCHL’s Matt Oakes had the chance to chat with Pittsburgh color commentator and former Panther quarterback Pat Bostick. The two discussed Pitt’s transition into the ACC, star running back James Conner, the loss of historic rivalries and the keys to the Panthers-Tar Heels matchup this weekend.
***Listen to the interview***http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/scouting-report-radio-commentator-former-pitt-qb-pat-bostick/
The UNC men’s soccer team surpassed the only team it has fallen to this season and now sits in the top spot in the nation, according to a recent poll.
The Bruins’ recent scoring woes helped contribute to the shift: UCLA is coming off a pair of 0-0 ties to Santa Clara and Cal Poly over the weekend.
Notre Dame held the No. 2 spot before Monday’s poll but fell to No. 4 after a 1-0 loss to Kentucky last Monday. Washington sits in the No. 3 spot, moving up two; Virginia rounds out the top five falling one spot.
The Tar Heels are back on the road and out of conference play Tuesday against William and Mary. That game can be seen on NSCAATV with the kickoff scheduled for 7:00 p.m.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-mens-soccer-takes-1-csn-poll/
The UNC men’s basketball team eases into its 2014-15 campaign, but the newly released schedule is highlighted by some high-level opponents.
The new 15-member Atlantic Coast Conference is stacked with talent bringing Louisville to the mix this year after Syracuse, Pittsburgh, and Notre Dame joined last year. The Tar Heels face the Cardinals in a home-and-home conference series this season; Carolina faces Syracuse and Notre Dame in the Smith Center and will travel to Pittsburgh.
Only one of the UNC-Duke matchups is scheduled to be carried on both ESPN and the ACC Network this year. The rivalry is the only contest carried by two networks. The ACC Network could very well still pick up the season finale in Chapel Hill on March 7.
Out of conference, the Tar Heels travel to Lexington, Kentucky to face the Wildcats in mid-December. Last year, Kentucky traveled to Chapel Hill where Carolina handed out the 82-77 defeat of Wildcats.
Over the Thanksgiving holiday, UNC travels to the Bahamas for the Battle 4 Atlantis. Carolina opens the tournament on Paradise Island against Butler and will face two other opponents out of the group of Oklahoma, UCLA, UAB, Florida, Georgetown, or Wisconsin.
Those dying to get to basketball season, you’ll be happy. Late Night with Roy comes three weeks earlier this year. The unofficial season tipoff is October 3.
The ACC officially announced the 2014-15 schedules Wednesday.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/unc-mens-basketball-schedule-released/
We continue our weekly preseason high school football series with a hop over to Hillsborough to check in on the Orange Panthers. The Panthers tore through the competition a year ago, just falling short of perfection at the final hurdle, but veteran head coach Pat Moser is back for another run in 2014.
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The Panthers were sitting at the doorstep of history in 2013, with only the Southern Durham Spartans standing in their way of an undefeated season.
Coach Moser says he wishes his squad could have cleared the final hurdle, but losing to the eventual state champions, featuring a quarterback who recently committed to play at Wake Forest, is nothing to be ashamed of.
“For us to be 10-1 at the end of the season, we felt pretty good. It was a very talented and good team in Southern Durham. They proved that by going on to win the whole thing. As far as we were concerned, we had a lot of fun. It was a great year for OrangeHigh School. We’re looking forward to this year,” Coach Moser says.
The Orange skipper identified a bevy of teams to watch out for in 2014, including Bill Hall’s Northwood team, defending champion Southern Durham, and an improving Chapel Hill squad.
Coach Moser says playing in the ultra-competitive 3A Big Eight conference is a double-edged sword.
“It’s tough to play that kind of competition week in and week out, mainly because if you’re not playing well for some reason one night, you can lose. But at the same time, playing that kind of competition prepares you for anybody you’re going to play in the states,” Coach Moser says.
The unquestioned leader of this Panther team is senior signal caller Garrett Cloer. Coach Moser says Cloer’s garnering plenty of national attention at the college level and has been taking his own game to the next level in his preparations this offseason.
“He’s [Cloer] being recruited by everybody in the country. He’s a great student and a great leader. I think he’s set the tone for our whole team in the offseason. He’s worked really hard. Our other kids have worked really hard. We’ll see. I think we’ll be okay,” Coach Moser says.
If the man behind center wasn’t enough to get Coach Moser excited for his offense, the guy in the backfield should put him over the top. Running back Tay Jones can flat out fly.
“We have a great running back in Tay Jones. He had 1,800 yard rushing last year. He’s working right now in summer school to get eligible. Hopefully, he will make the grade and be with us,” Coach Moser says.
Pending a successful completion of summer coursework, Jones should be a terror for opposing defenses. But the true backbone to this Orange squad rests on the other end of the ball.
The Panther defense is a sight to behold. In 2013, Orange pitched four shutouts and held opponents to single digits in an emphatic eight games.
To move the ball against Orange is to accomplish something special. Coach Moser says he always prioritizes the defense, putting the best athletes on that side of the ball.
“We always put the most emphasis that we can on the defense. We try to play the best defense that we can. We two-platoon. We take our kids that can run and will hit. That’s who our defense is,” Coach Moser says.
One of the great traditions at Orange is the awarding of ‘Zero’ candy bars to the team after a full-game shutout is achieved. And true to form, Coach Moser says his kids are hungry for more chocolate in 2014.
“That’s something that the kids like. […] They like getting the Zero bar if they can hold people to zero. We’ll do that as well as maybe add a couple more positions,” Coach Moser says.
The fearless Panthers, with their key offensive playmakers and always ruthless defense, should be in the hunt for another conference title this fall.http://chapelboro.com/sports/high-school/grid-orange-high-panthers/
GREENSBORO – The No. 15 North Carolina men’s basketball team fell 80-75 in the ACC Tournament quarterfinals Friday afternoon to drop to 23-9 overall on the season.
“We had some chances. We really tried hard. Got it to four with the ball two different occasions and got it three and didn’t stop, but the kids tried exceptionally hard and they’re a wonderful bunch of kids. But we just didn’t play nearly as well as we wanted to play early,” UNC Head Coach Roy Williams said after the game.
Pitt senior center Talib Zanna outrebounded the entire Carolina team until midway through the second half. In total, he grabbed 21 rebounds, tied for third-most in an ACC Tournament game. Zanna recorded his 11th double-double of the season.
Carolina fell behind 25-8 at the 7:14 mark to go in the first half and started off the contest 0-7 from the floor. It proved too much to overcome in the end.
As usual, UNC sophomore point guard Marcus Paige saved his best stuff for the end. He finished with a game-high 27 points, registering his 11th game with more than 20 points this season.
“I think we can learn from the things we did well in that last eight minute stretch. We played really well. We forced a lot of turnovers and we were able to make things happen with our traps, which will be helpful next week,” Paige said in his postgame remarks.
The Tar Heels closed within four points multiple times, but just couldn’t muster the strength to complete the gritty comeback effort.
Carolina finished the contest shooting 41 percent as a team while Pitt shot at a much better 54 percent clip. Additionally and crucially, the Panthers outrebounded the Tar Heels 43-35.
Next up for the Tar Heels will be the NCAA Tournament. UNC will await its seeding and regional location this Sunday.
Click here to see the complete photo album.
It’s starting to get serious over here in Greensboro. Here are my quick reactions so far:
GAME ONE: #8 Maryland vs. #9 Florida State
I strolled into the Greensboro Coliseum for an interesting matchup between the Terps and Noles. I was impressed with the Maryland contingent. They were vocal and you could sense their fans were desperate not to leave their final ACC Tournament without a victory.
Everybody else…they wanted nothing more than to see Leonard Hamilton’s Seminoles crush the ACC traitors and give them a rude parting gift out the door. ACC purists, including many seated next to me in press row, were licking their chops at the possibility of a Maryland loss.
All in all, it was a competitive first half, however sloppy. Maryland’s Allen tallied 13 points. The Terps held the 34-32 edge. Both teams were shooting at a 43-percent clip from the floor.
Okaro White stepped up with an athletic block that resulted in a sprint to the basket in the other end. There’s no questioning the athleticism of the Seminoles – and their cheerleaders, oh my! But that’s another story for another day.
There were some great spikes in this one. It seemed like a volleyball match at time out there on the court. Mark Turgeon was his usual disgusted self on the sidelines for the Terps. I must say, I’ll miss his sour looks when he departs for the Big Ten next year.
Florida State was smartly getting out on the perimeter, limiting the Maryland three-point shots to perfection and forcing the drive inside – right into the Seminole wheelhouse.
Ian Miller and Thomas were both solid scoring options for Florida State. Dez Wells was doing his best to keep the Terps in the contest. But ultimately, it was the farewell party Maryland never wanted – falling on a last second Bojo dunk. Bojo, the Turtle Slayer!
FINAL: FSU 67 – MD 65
GAME TWO: #5 Pitt vs. #12 Wake Forest
There would be no slow start for Pitt in this one. The Panthers got off to a roaring start – 15-5 with 14:32 to play.
It was a heavy dose of Lamar Patterson and Talib Zanna for the Panthers. Tyler Cavanaugh sniping three-pointers is a necessary ingredient to the Demon Deacons. And speaking of Demon Deacons, their mascot has some sick dance moves!
Wake Forest’s players, however, were not quite as enthusiastic as the mascot and cheerleaders. They seemed lethargic, sluggishly getting back on defense and not running solid offense.
Zanna and Patterson duo were proving too much for the Deac defense to handle. At the intermission, the Panthers held the 39-25 lead.
It was an epic halftime show. The mascots of all the ACC teams took over the floor and put on a zany, entertaining display of hoops. The Pitt dance team wasn’t too bad either.
The pace definitely quickened in the second half of play. The energy was ratcheted up for both squads, but again, Patterson was still Patterson. And his speciality was shredding the Demon Deacon defense.
The game got uglier and uglier by the minute, with Wake trailing by as many as 26 points midway through the second half. Head Coach Bzdelik’s funeral procession had begun.
Things got so out of hand that the fans all left for early happy hour and dinner. You could hear individual shouts from the crowd. Patterson finished with 24 points and sat the bench the final minutes.
In the end, Pitt advanced seamlessly on to the quarterfinals and a date with North Carolina.
FINAL: Pitt 84 – Wake Forest 55
The No. 15 North Carolina baseball team pulled out a 2-1 series win over ACC newcomer Pittsburgh last weekend at Boshamer Stadium to improve to 10-4 on the season.
Benton Moss and Trent Thornton produced two solid starts on the mound for the Tar Heels in the double-header on Saturday. Foul weather on Friday prompted a postponement of Friday’s game.
Freshman Zac Gallen allowed four earned runs in his Sunday start that saw Pitt claim a 6-4 win to avoid the sweep.
Next up for the Tar Heels is a busy midweek schedule. UNC hosts George Mason Tuesday and Gardner Webb Wednesday. Both games start at 4 p.m.
The Tar Heels come into the matchup on a roll, winners of seven straight. The Panthers enter the contest off a tough extra innings loss to Western Kentucky.
Right-handed ace Trent Thornton will start on the mound for Carolina Friday. Thornton currently boasts a 3-0 record and a 1.33 ERA with 22 strikeouts.
Benton Moss has registered a 2.49 ERA this year and is coming off of a complete-game performance against North Florida on March 1. Moss will get the start on Saturday.
The freshman bats will need to continue to stay hot this weekend against the Panthers. Freshman Wood Myers is leading the team offensively with a .390 average in the leadoff spot.
Last season, Pittsburgh was 4-3 against nationally ranked competition, but Friday will mark the first career game between the Tar Heels and the Panthers.
First pitch is scheduled for 3 p.m. Friday afternoon in Chapel Hill.http://chapelboro.com/sports/unc-sports/tar-heel-baseball-opens-acc-campaign-pittsburgh-weekend-series/