North Carolina led for just two seconds in this game. That was all they needed.
So that happened.
After going into halftime down by three, UNC spent most of the second half down by around ten. With 11 minutes left, Pitt kicked a field goal to go up 13 points. The Tar Heels then went three-and-out on their next drive, and the game looked over. Carolina had failed to contain Pitt’s offense all game, and the Panthers had a chance to put away the game.
Then the defense got a stop. Carolina went down the field on the next possession and scored, cutting the deficit to six. Then the defense got another stop. With 3:35 left, UNC got the ball on their own 37 yard line.
After a 17 play drive that included three fourth down conversions, Bug Howard made an incredible touchdown catch to improbably tie the game. After Nick Weiler made the extra point, UNC took their first lead of the game with just two seconds left. Pitt couldn’t score on the kickoff and North Carolina somehow won 37-36.
The game started well enough. Carolina got a stop on the first possession, and Ryan Switzer ran back the punt for a touchdown, seemingly giving the Tar Heels the lead. However, the touchdown was called back for holding, and Switzer was tackled in the endzone on UNC’s first play from scrimage. What looked like a 7-0 lead had turned into a 2-0 deficit.
Pitt scored the game’s first 12 points, with Carolina in possession for just 33 seconds in the first 17 minutes. UNC finally got on the board early in the second quarter when Mack Hollins caught a touchdown to make it 12-7.
Soon after, Pitt went up 19-7 on a five-minute, 75-yard drive. Carolina answered back and got a turnover on Pitt’s next possession. That gave UNC a chance to take a lead going into halftime. Carolina had two decent chances at touchdown passes, but one was out of bounds, and Pitt was called for pass interference on the other. UNC ran out of time, and settled for a field goal, going into the half down 19-13.
After receiving the kickoff to start the second half, Carolina went three-and-out. Pitt then spent most of the next quarter and a half moving the ball down the field fairly easily. In total, the Panthers ran for 281 yards. Even that is a somewhat deceiving total as Pitt had a -28 yard run after a bad snap in the first quarter.
The Panthers looked to put the game out of reach, when they kicked a field goal to go up 13 early in the fourth. At that time, UNC’s offense was sputtering a bit as well. Thankfully, the defense showed up in the fourth quarter. The Tar Heels allowed just 53 yards in the fourth. It was just in time for the offense to get going again. That allowed the offense to score 14 unanswered points in the fourth and complete a crazy comeback win.
Most of the offense yardage came through the air. Mitch Trubisky threw for 453 yards and five touchdowns. On the game-winning drive, Trubisky connected on three huge fourth down completions, keeping Carolina in the game.
A lot of Trubisky’s passes were thrown to Ryan Switzer, who tied a school record with 16 catches. Austin Proehl had seven catches, but Howard had the most important catches. Howard caught both fourth quarter touchdowns that allowed Carolina to complete the comeback.
The run game didn’t do a ton in this game, running for just 18 total yards. Elijah Hood had 25 yards on 11 carries, while T.J. Logan had six on two carries.
The defense did show up just in time in the fourth, but they spent a vast majority of the game getting ran over. As mentioned earlier, Pitt ran for 281 yards. In total, the Panthers put up 421 yards, and went 10-17 on third down.
UNC still has a lot of room for improvement this season. The vast majority game was not pretty from a Carolina fan standpoint. Despite all that, this game goes in the win column. UNC is now 1-0 in the ACC with that one being a pretty big win.