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Georgia Tech beating UNC Chapel Hill | A promise to the future?

Georgia Tech's Malik Rutherford deemed the savior of the game. Photo: GT Instagram
Georgia Tech's Malik Rutherford deemed the savior of the game. Photo: GT Instagram

In a heart-stopping clash of gridiron titans, the No. 17 North Carolina football team (6-2, 3-2 ACC) faced off against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (4-4, 3-2 ACC) at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday night. What transpired was an electrifying contest, a shootout that will be remembered for years. The Tar Heels, however, found themselves on the wrong side of a 46-42 defeat, marking their second straight loss to a team with a losing record. It was a night that defied expectations and sent shockwaves through the ACC.

This loss carries a bitter sting for UNC, as it was the first time in 46 games under head coach Mack Brown that the Tar Heels failed to secure victory despite scoring over 40 points. Frustrated by the outcome, Brown summed it up succinctly: "Tonight, if you score 42 points, you should win the game."

The game opened with promise for the Tar Heels as they forced the Yellow Jackets to punt on their opening drive. UNC then embarked on a nine-play, 75-yard offensive showcase culminating in a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Drake Maye to junior tight end Bryson Nesbit.

After a heart-wrenching 31-27 loss to Virginia the previous week, where running back Omarion Hampton's role was curtailed in the second half, the ground game took center stage in UNC's offensive strategy. The Tar Heels amassed an impressive 267 total rushing yards, led by Hampton, who carried the ball 29 times for 153 yards and two touchdowns. Graduate running back British Brooks and Maye contributed to the ground game with a rushing touchdown each, while Maye also threw for 310 yards and two touchdowns on 17-25 passing.

UNC forced a turnover on downs, and Hampton once again showcased his prowess with a 17-yard rushing touchdown, giving the Tar Heels a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. Hampton's explosive start saw him amass 72 rushing yards in the opening quarter alone.

However, the Yellow Jackets launched a stunning offensive surge in the second quarter, amassing 24 points. Quarterback Haynes King connected with receiver Malik Ruther for a 42-yard reception to open the floodgates for Georgia Tech. UNC responded with a 46-yard bomb to Bryson Nesbit and a 14-yard touchdown run from Brooks.

The back-and-forth continued as the Yellow Jackets narrowed the deficit to 21-14 with King's 35-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brett Seither. Georgia Tech then tied the game with receiver Eric Singleton Jr.'s 43-yard reception, followed by Rutherford's 14-yard touchdown catch.

UNC managed a swift drive culminating in Maye's 14-yard touchdown pass, entering halftime with a 28-24 lead.

UNC faces it's second lost to a team with a losing record. Photo: Carolina Football Instagram
UNC faces it's second lost to a team with a losing record. Photo: Carolina Football Instagram

With a 35-24 lead in the fourth quarter, the Tar Heels faced a resilient Yellow Jackets' offense that embarked on an 88-yard drive, capped by running back Jamal Haynes' touchdown. Georgia Tech even managed a 2-point conversion to close the gap to 35-32. UNC's response was swift and promising, as redshirt first-year Tychaun Chapman embarked on a 52-yard kickoff return, setting the stage for a 35-yard touchdown pass from Maye to Tychaun. UNC soared to a 42-32 lead, setting the stage for a rollercoaster finish.

But Georgia Tech had the last say, with running back Dontae Smith breaking free for a 70-yard rushing touchdown. The Yellow Jackets halted UNC's comeback efforts when the Tar Heels' kicker, Noah Burnette, missed a critical 39-yard field goal attempt.

Haynes, Georgia Tech's dynamic running back, then sprinted 52 yards through the heart of the Tar Heels defense, again connecting with Seither for a pivotal touchdown. From that moment, the Yellow Jackets never looked back, securing a dramatic 46-42 victory that will surely be etched in the annals of ACC football history.

In the aftermath of this electrifying contest, the Tar Heels face a period of reflection and reevaluation. With a rollercoaster season continuing, UNC will return to Kenan Stadium on Saturday, November 4, to meet Campbell. Now, at a critical juncture, this team must regroup and find the path to victory in their pursuit of postseason glory.


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