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.
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.