Tar Heels stymie Or­ange QB, so Syra­cuse subs him out

The Charlotte Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - BY JONATHAN M. ALEXAN­DER jalexan­[email protected]­sob­server.com Jonathan M. Alexan­der, 919- 829- 4822; @jon­malexan­der

North Carolina had Syra­cuse quar­ter­back Eric Dungey fig­ured out.

The de­fen­sive line blitzed him of­ten in the sec­ond half Satur­day and forced him into er­rant throws. Then, they sacked him. On seven con­sec­u­tive pos­ses­sions, Syra­cuse ran 28 plays and gained 54 yards. And the Tar Heels led 27-20.

So Syra­cuse coach Dino Babers made an un­ex­pected de­ci­sion. He turned to his fresh­man backup quar­ter­back Tommy De­Vito, who had thrown 34 passes and one touch­down all sea­son.

The Tar Heels ap­peared baf­fled. De­Vito threw a 42-yard touch­down pass with 1:39 left in the game to send it to over­time.

The fresh­man threw two more touch­down passes to help lead the Or­ange to a 40-37 win in dou­ble over­time against the Tar Heels. UNC will play at Vir­ginia next week. Here are five ob­ser­va­tions from the game:

1. UNC AP­PEARED CAUGHT OFF GUARD BY FRESH­MAN QB

All week, UNC coach Larry Fe­dora had raved about Dungey and how his play mo­ti­vates his team. Fe­dora said if Dungey runs, he’s try­ing to pun­ish the de­fender. The Tar Heels pre­pared well for him. They shut him down in the sec­ond half.

But they did not ap­pear pre­pared for De­Vito, whom Babers put in late in the fourth quar­ter. Com­ing into the game, De­vito was 17-34 for 218 yards and one touch­down in four games played.

“I thought it might be a spark,” Babers said.

De­Vito fin­ished the game 11-for-19 for 181 yards and three touch­downs. He also had one in­ter­cep­tion.

“The guy had a ca­reer day, threw the ball re­ally well,” Fe­dora said. “He made some re­ally great throws. Put the ball right where it had to be. So you have to give him credit.”

2. MORE MISSED OP­POR­TU­NI­TIES

The Tar Heels had mul­ti­ple chances to end the game, and even win it af­ter they lost the lead.

Se­nior kicker Free­man Jones missed a 45-yard field goal with 5:16 left to play that would have put the Tar Heels up by 10.

A few min­utes later, UNC ran a trick play on third-and-four, a pass from An­thony Ratliff Wil­liams to tight end Carl Tucker out of the wild­cat for­ma­tion. There were 2:17 left in the game. The pass was a lit­tle low, but Tucker, who was wide open, got his hands on the ball and dropped it.

A catch there likely would have ended the game too.

Af­ter Syra­cuse had tied the game, and had the ball again to win it, ju­nior cor­ner­back Patrice Rene came up with an in­ter­cep­tion at the Syra­cuse 38 with 52 sec­onds left. A few yards would have put UNC in field goal po­si­tion to win it. But UNC went five straight plays with­out gain­ing a yard.

3. EL­LIOTT HAD AR­GUABLY HIS BEST GAME

Af­ter be­ing benched in fa­vor of fresh­man quar­ter­back Cade Fortin last week, El­liott came back with one of his best games of the sea­son. He was 20-for-25 in the first half for 160 yards and a touch­down.

In the sec­ond half, he was 12-for-23 for 157 yards. He made some big­time throws in the first half on third downs. And this was when UNC’s run­ning game was av­er­ag­ing less than two yards per carry. El­liott’s play seemed to give the rest of the team con­fi­dence.

El­liott’s best stat was his zero turnovers. Still the loss hurt.

“It was pretty heart­break­ing,” El­liott said. “I feel like we had mul­ti­ple op­por­tu­ni­ties that we could have sealed the game. We’ve got to be bet­ter in those sit­u­a­tions.”

4. DE­FENSE GOT PRES­SURE WITH­OUT CAR­NEY

It had been a strug­gle get­ting pres­sure on the quar­ter­back with­out se­nior de­fen­sive end Ma­lik Car­ney. But with Car­ney serv­ing his fi­nal game of sus­pen­sion, UNC still brought the pres­sure. UNC recorded five sacks and forced Dungey into some bad passes.

That’s a good sign for the de­fense, which will get its best pass rusher back for the rest of the sea­son. That is un­less UNC sched­ules a 12th game. Car­ney has 5.5 sacks in three games played.

Se­nior de­fen­sive end Tyler Pow­ell had two sacks Satur­day. Ju­nior de­fen­sive line­men Ja­son Strow­bridge and Allen Cater had one sack each, and se­nior line­backer Allen Ar­tis had a sack too.

5. RENE HAS BEEN LIGHTS OUT RE­CENTLY

Patrice Rene seems to be gain­ing con­fi­dence. He recorded his sec­ond in­ter­cep­tion of the sea­son, and sec­ond of his ca­reer. He also had a pass breakup. His in­ter­cep­tion with 52 sec­onds left in the game at the Syra­cuse 38 put the Tar Heels in a po­si­tion to win the game.

Rene had a big in­ter­cep­tion against Vir­ginia Tech too. He strug­gled against East Carolina, but has come on strong re­cently.

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