HEELS

The News & Observer (Sunday) - - Sports - Alexan­der, 919-829-4822; @jon­malexan­der

grab his shoul­der. He got up slowly, and on the next play he threw a 44-yard pass to An­thony Ratlif­fWil­liams at the Georgia Tech 6-yard line. Three plays later, he threw a 9-yard touch­down pass to ju­nior tight end Carl Tucker, which helped jump start the Tar Heels’ come­back at­tempt.

But after the first touch­down of his col­lege ca­reer, Ruder did not re­turn. He went back into the locker room, and when he emerged, he had a sling on his left (non-throw­ing) arm.

When El­liott re­turned to the game to re­place Ruder, the crowd booed, per­haps not know­ing Ruder was in­jured. El­liott man­aged to help UNC tie the score in the fourth quar­ter. But he was not good enough to help the Tar Heels win. He threw two crit­i­cal in­ter­cep­tions late in the fourth quar­ter. The score was tied at 28 on the first fourth-quar­ter in­ter­cep­tion with 8:07 left in the game. The other oc­curred when the Tar Heels were down 35-28 with 2:53 left.

Both hap­pened in UNC ter­ri­tory, and Georgia Tech (5-4, 3-3) scored 10 points off those turnovers, which turned out to be the dif­fer­ence in the loss.

“I take re­spon­si­bil­ity for this one,” El­liott said after the game. “We’ve got to make plays. Our play­ers have to make plays. I’ve got to make plays. I’ve got to do a bet­ter job.”

Ruder be­came the third UNC quar­ter­back to go down with an in­jury this sea­son after re­liev­ing El­liott. Sur­ratt re-in­jured his wrist on Sept. 27 against Mi­ami. He is of­fi­cially out for the sea­son. Fortin, who showed prom­ise in his lone start, in­jured his knee on Oct. 13 against Virginia Tech when he tried to run for a touch­down. He too was hit hard. But he stayed on the ground and did not re­turn to the game.

And now Ruder, whose only in­com­plete pass on Satur­day was a drop by ju­nior wide re­ceiver Ratliff-Wil­liams, is hurt.

“If I could have that back I would get him to go down or slide in that sit­u­a­tion, but you hate to take away a guy’s ag­gres­sive­ness,” UNC coach Larry Fe­dora said. “He’s dev­as­tated right now, but he’ll bounce back.”

When asked had he ever had three quar­ter­backs go down in one sea­son like this, Fe­dora couldn’t re­call.

He said the in­juries to his young quar­ter­backs are frus­trat­ing, but it’s part of the game.

“We worked hard with those young guys, and both of them have worked ex­tremely hard to put them­selves in a po­si­tion where they could help the foot­ball team,” Fe­dora said. “And they got out there and they were do­ing a good job, and un­for­tu­nately they didn’t make it through the game.”

Fe­dora said his op­tions at quar­ter­back are now El­liott, se­nior walk-on Manny Miles and Ratlif­fWil­liams, who en­tered UNC as a quar­ter­back, but later con­verted to wide re­ceiver.

“The next guys step up and got to get it done,” Fe­dora said.

PHOTOS BY ROBERT WIL­LETT rwil­lett@new­sob­server.com

North Carolina Ma­lik Car­ney re­turns a Georgia Tech fum­ble 20 yards for a touch­down in the first quar­ter on Satur­day at Ke­nan Sta­dium in Chapel Hill.

North Carolina’s Pa­trice Rene (5) tries to stop Georgia Tech’s TaQuon Mar­shall in the first quar­ter.

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