Much of this season has felt like UNC flirting with disaster on the football field. Despite being 9-1 to this point, they have only managed to get there by snatching victory from the jaws of defeat multiple times. It felt inevitable that luck would run out eventually. The attempt at a bend-don’t-break defense worked well enough to come away winners in nine games this. Unfortunately, the defense broke in a pretty significant way against Georgia Tech, and it resulted in a loss for the Tar Heels.
Carolina jumped out to a 17-0 lead, giving a brief indication that maybe they’d be able to turn this one into a laugher. Instead, the defense surrendered 21 straight points that the offense could not recover from. Phil Longo’s offense was, to put it bluntly, abysmal in the red zone. That, a fairly pedestrian night by Drake Maye’s standards, a touchdown called back for holding, and Josh Downs dropping what would have been a go ahead touchdown in the final minutes added up to the second loss of the season.
Maye was not other-worldly as he has been most of this season. He threw for 202 yards, zero touchdowns, and one interception. The pick was his first in five games. Maye was sacked six times by the Yellow Jackets to add insult to injury. Downs was not himself tonight either, leaving the field with what seemed like an injury in the first half before ultimately returning. With Antoine Greene sitting out tonight’s game, that left Bryson Nesbit to shoulder the load at receiver. Unfortunately, none of the receiving corps were able to find pay dirt. Elijah Green was the man responsible for the team’s two touchdowns on 92 rushing yards.
Maye can’t be expected to be superman every night, and it’s really one of the first times he’s looked human all season. The infuriating red zone situation should be very alarming, but the offense is the one who brought us here and we have to dance with them. They should be able to muster more than 17 points against this Georgia Tech squad. By the same token, the defense should have done better than allowing 21 unanswered points to a third string quarterback. But here we are.
Carolina will still play for the ACC championship in Charlotte. Between now and then, there’s certainly work to be done if they’d like to actually win that game. It’s frustrating when it feels like the team plays the same exact game every single week, but this is finally where it just wasn’t enough.
Hopefully they can bounce back before Friday’s game against NC State.