Fine mar­gins, big gap for UNC

The Herald-Sun (Sunday) - - Sports - BY LUKE DECOCK lde­cock@new­sob­server.com

It’s a long walk from the field at Wal­lace Wade Sta­dium to the vis­it­ing locker rooms, in Duke’s field house at the far end of the prac­tice fields. Larry Fe­dora made that walk Satur­day af­ter yet an­other loss, while Duke’s Trevon McSwain rode the Vic­tory Bell around like a ring­ing rodeo bronco, and for Fe­dora it had the bell-tolling sense of a long walk to­ward obliv­ion.

North Carolina con­tin­ues to lose by the finest of mar­gins, a play here, one crit­i­cal fum­ble or dropped pass there, and Satur­day’s 42-35 loss to Duke was no dif­fer­ent. The Tar Heels had a 39-yard Hail Mary knocked down in the end zone as time ex­pired, and cra­zier things have hap­pened. Cra­zier things hap­pened Satur­day in a game that saw 11 play­ers score 11 touch­downs.

But it was an­other loss, North Carolina’s third straight to Duke. As close as North Carolina may be to win­ning week af­ter week, the losses con­tinue to pile up week af­ter week. As much as the Tar Heels con­tinue to fight, they can­not es­cape the over­whelm­ing sense of ir­rel­e­vance that con­tin­ues to en­velop North Carolina’s foot­ball pro­gram like poi­son fog.

“You sleep at night be­cause you know you’re not go­ing to get out­worked,” Fe­dora said. “You’re go­ing to work as hard as any­body there is. Th­ese kids are go­ing to con­tinue to work hard and it’ll hap­pen. I truly be­lieve that.”

As fine as the mar­gins may be, they add up to a sin­gle win this sea­son, over ( po­ten­tial Coastal Divi­sion cham­pion) Pitts­burgh. The Tar Heels have lost three straight to Duke, two straight to N.C. State and three straight to East Carolina, leav­ing Fe­dora 6-11 against in-state teams. North Carolina hasn’t beaten a Power 5 op­po­nent other than Pitt in more than two years, go­ing from 11-3 to 8-5 to 3-9 to 1-8.

Fe­dora would ar­gue, and he might be right, that the down­ward tra­jec­tory prob­a­bly doesn’t re­flect the state of the pro­gram.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.