The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday October 5th

UNC Must Stop Foes on 3rd Down

The North Carolina defense had one more third down - one final chance to make a stop and redeem itself. Georgia Tech, leading Saturday's game 35-28, was facing third-and-one from its own 47-yard line with just more than two minutes left in the contest. The Tar Heels stacked the line with a stunt formation, but when Tech quarterback George Godsey handed off to Joe Burns, all the tailback saw was daylight. Burns' 51-yard scamper set up his 2-yard score on the next play, giving the Jackets a 42-28 lead with 1:55 left in the game. Not exactly what the the Tar Heels were looking for. "We had hoped we would stop them and call time-out and then hope we could try and block the punt," UNC coach Carl Torbush said. "And the next thing I know we're down the field 50 yards. And obviously we had a stunt on and didn't have a center-field player, so when he broke through the line of scrimmage and got five yards deep, it was clear sailing, which is not good." That third-down conversion was Tech's fourth in five opportunities in the final quarter. The Yellow Jackets finished 9-of-16 (56.3 percent), surprising considering they had converted 26-of-66 chances (39.4 percent) prior to Saturday's matchup. It was even more shocking because UNC opponents had capitalized on 15-of-58 chances entering the game, or 25.9 percent. That gave the Tar Heel defense the second-best mark in the ACC. "That's what's important when you play these guys, that you move the chains because they're stingy on the run," Tech coach George O'Leary said. "You're not going to get them with the run game." The Tech offense, particularly Godsey and his receivers, seemed to thrive on these pressure situations against the Tar Heels. Godsey was 9-of-11 for 92 yards with one touchdown and one interception on third downs. His touchdown came on a third-and-nine on the UNC 11-yard line early in the second half. The Jackets went four wide, allowing Burns to sneak out of the backfield unnoticed by the secondary. Godsey dumped the ball off to him and Burns went in for a 21-14 Tech lead with 9:48 left in the third quarter. "(Godsey) gets the ball where he needs to get it, and they were able to convert some really, really key third down situations on third-and-long distances that really hurt," Torbush said. "They got some situations where, instead of punting, they ended up going downfield and ended up scoring." Godsey victimized the UNC defense again on Tech's game-winning drive. Facing third-and-four from his own 38-yard line, he hit wideout Kerry Watkins over the middle on a 15-yard pass. Nine plays later, the Jackets had a 35-28 lead with 4:02 left in the game. "That definitely would have put the momentum in our favor," linebacker Brandon Spoon said of preventing that pass. "It would have gotten the crowd behind us. And at that point, we were playing very well. "That play was very big. We missed some tackles and everything. They just made the plays when they had to. We helped them a little bit more than we should have." Indeed, the Tar Heel secondary certainly didn't help its cause, at times giving the Yellow Jacket wideouts too much cushion to work with on third down. Late in the first half, on third-and-13 from the UNC 29-yard line, Kelly Campbell slipped after cutting back on a curl route. He still managed to make the catch while sitting on the field - right at the first-down marker. UNC cornerback Errol Hood, covering Campbell on the play, was several yards past the ball. "Third down conversions killed us," Torbush said. "And at the same time, they had four drives over 60 yards, and it's been a long time since that's happened. We've got to be better at that, and we've got to understand how to distance better and make plays." The Sports Editor can be reached at sports@unc.edu.



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