Led by All-American performances by “freakish” linebacker Bruce Carter and defensive end Quinton Coples, the North Carolina Tar Heels defeated the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 17-13.
North Carolina received the ball first to start the game and immediately drove right down the field as T.J. Yates very efficiently operated the short passing game by taking what the defense gave him. The Carolina drive was halted thought on a 4th and 1 at the Rutgers 30 yards line when they stopped UNC’s Johnny White right in his tracks. Rutgers promptly responded with 10 points of their own on their two subsequent drives. Rutgers, obviously after watching a lot of game film of how Georgia Tech’s Josh Nesbitt repeatedly gashed the UNC defense, had athlete Mohamed Sanu take a lot of snaps out of the wildcat. Everything was going Rutgers way as they were poised to extend their lead even more until North Carolina’s Bruce Carter made a fantastic play to intercept a Tom Savage pass and return it nearly 50 yards. Only five plays later, running back Johnny White punched it in from a few yards out to make the score 10-7. UNC went ahead early in the second half as T.J. Yates found tight end Ryan Taylor in the front of the end zone to give Carolina all the coring they would need. Casey Barth added a field goal later in the 4th quarter to give Carolina their 17-13 win.
You certainly have to give plenty of credit to Butch Davis and that North Carolina coaching staff as the Heels, who came out very flat on both sides of the ball in the first half, became extremely active as the North Carolina defensive front four continued to hit the quarterback almost every single play. Quinton Coples finished with 3.0 sacks and four tackles for loss.
This was a game that North Carolina should have won. Unfortunate turnovers on Rutgers’ side of the field eliminated early scoring opportunities, and the lack of push by the offensive line didn’t allow the running game to ever get started. On the bright side however, this North Carolina defense looked the best they have all year and are finally beginning to gel as a group. This group will only get scarier as suspended players begin to reappear on the Carolina sidelines starting in just a few weeks.
About the Author
Written by Tom Waterman
I am an aspiring Sports Journalist, who is currently majoring in Communications at Elon University.