Ga. Tech, Vad Lee add to Tar Heel misery in Atlanta
North Carolina has a few more memories to add to their 16 years of misery at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
An 82-yard scoring pass for UNC that was called back for holding. A fumble at the goal line that was called a Georgia Tech touchdown and was upheld on replay.
In the end, the result was the same — another close victory for the Yellow Jackets over the Tar Heels in Atlanta.
UNC’s offense scored touchdowns on three of its four possessions but only put up 62 yards in the second half. The defense allowed 40 fewer points than last year, but wilted in the end.
It added up to a 28-20 win for Georgia Tech, which extended its home winning streak over the Tar Heels to eight games — six decided by eight points or less.
“Disappointing, but not discouraging,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said. “Everything out there is preventable. We can play better, we can coach better. All those things. We have to do that and we have to get better in a hurry.”
The Tar Heels (1-2, 0-1) fell to 1-10 in their last 11 conference openers to once again put themselves in an early hole in the Coastal Division race.
Yellow Jackets sophomore quarterback Vad Lee, a Hillside High School graduate, accounted for two touchdowns against the team he grew up rooting for. He completed 7 of 12 passes for 104 yards and had 24 carries for 55 yards.
He also fumbled three times in the constant rain and was contained far better than in last year’s 68-50 Georgia Tech win, which was the highest-scoring game in ACC history. But the Yellow Jackets still put up 300 yards rushing, as they have in all six games against UNC since Paul Johnson took over.
“There’s no such thing as a moral victory to me,” UNC defensive end Kareem Martin said. “At the end of the day a moral victory isn’t going to get you to the ACC championship.”
The Tar Heels couldn’t have asked for a better first quarter. UNC went 58 yards on six plays in its opening drive, which ended with a Romar Morris four-yard touchdown run, though the two-point conversion pass from holder Tommy Hibbard to kicker Thomas Moore fell incomplete.
The defense then forced a three-and-out on Georgia Tech’s first possession after recording just two in last year’s meeting. Darius Lipford recovered a Lee fumble at UNC’s 46, and junior tight end Eric Ebron made a 19-yard one-handed touchdown catch, his first score of the season, to put the Tar Heels up 13-0.
“It was either go get it or look like a loser,” said Ebron, who finished with six catches for 106 yards, the first 100-yard game of his career.
Georgia Tech finally got on the board on a 1-yard touchdown run by David Sims, who was ruled to have broken the plane with the ball just before it got knocked loose.
“On that one I really don’t know,” Sims said. “When they said it was a touchdown I was thankful.”
UNC responded with a 24-yard touchdown throw from Bryn Renner to Tapley to make it 20-7, but Georgia Tech cut into the lead before the half.
The Yellow Jackets’ offense isn’t well suited for the two-minute drill — Lee was 1 for 5 passing at the time — but he completed all four of his throws for a total of 56 yards as Georgia Tech moved down the field, including a 21-yard touchdown pass with 30 seconds left.
UNC looked to extend its lead with an 82-yard pass from Renner to freshman Ryan Switzer in the third third quarter, but freshman right tackle Jon Heck was called for holding. Instead, the Yellow Jackets scored the go-ahead touchdown on their next possession, and put together a 92-yard drive to go up 28-20 with 13:22 remaining.
Because of Georgia Tech’s ball-control offense, UNC was held to two possessions in the fourth quarter. The first one ended when Renner’s pass, intended for Ebron, was tipped and intercepted at the Yellow Jackets’ 30. The Tar Heels then went three-and-out and wouldn’t get the ball back after punting with 6:27 left.
On third-and-10 from the UNC 25, Johnson called a play intended to position the ball in the center of the field for a clinching field goal, but Lee broke free, absorbed a hit from Travis Hughes and fell forward for the first down. After two kneel downs, he held the ball up and raised both arms in the air to celebrate an eighth win in nine games for Georgia Tech against its Coastal rival.
NOTES — UNC junior Jack Tabb was suspended for Saturday’s game and for the upcoming game against East Carolina for “a violation of team rules.” Tabb was a backup tight end and linebacker, with three catches for 50 yards and three tackles through the first two games. The news was announced 20 minutes before kickoff. … Bandit Norkeithus Otis had eight tackles, a sack, two forced fumbles and a pass break-up, but also committed two penalties to prolong drives by Georgia Tech — an unsportmanlike conduct penalty on a punt and an offsides penalty on fourth-and-1 in the fourth quarter. … Lee was one of a handful of Georgia Tech players who wrote “APU”, which stands for All Players United, on their wristbands. ESPN said the gesture was coordinated by the National College Players Association, an advocacy group that supports NCAA reform.
|GEORGIA TECH 28, NORTH CAROLINA 20|
NC—Morris 4 run (pass failed), 12:29.
NC—Ebron 19 pass from Renner (T.Moore kick), :29.
GaT—Sims 1 run (Butker kick), 11:13.
NC—Tapley 24 pass from Renner (T.Moore kick), 9:18.
GaT—Waller 21 pass from Lee (Butker kick), :30.
GaT—Lee 1 run (Butker kick), 5:52.
GaT—Sims 6 run (Butker kick), 13:22.
|Time of Possession||19:22||40:38|
RUSHING—North Carolina, Morris 11-54, Blue 5-27, Francis 4-17,
Renner 4-3. Georgia Tech, Godhigh 9-100, Sims 17-99, Lee 24-55,
Perkins 1-26, Laskey 7-18, Zenon 3-10, Days 3-8, Andrews 1-5,
Bostic 4-4, Team 2-(minus 1).
PASSING—North Carolina, Renner 14-29-1-218. Georgia Tech,
RECEIVING—North Carolina, Ebron 6-108, Q.Davis 2-36, Tapley 2-36,
Blue 1-17, Morris 1-12, Switzer 1-6, Singleton 1-3. Georgia Tech,
Smelter 3-53, Waller 2-38, Bostic 1-7, Zenon 1-6.