The North Carolina football team took the lead just before halftime Saturday against Georgia Tech.
A.J. Blue scored his second touchdown of the first half with 27 seconds left in the second quarter, and placeholder Tommy Hibbard gave the Tar Heels a 29-28 lead when he threw to Jack Tabb for a two-point conversion.
But when UNC came back out for the second half, everything went wrong.
The Tar Heels had only allowed 23 points in the third quarter all season entering Saturday’s Homecoming game, but the Yellow Jackets scored 30 in that period on Saturday.
The Tar Heels’ lead vanished in 15 seconds when Georgia Tech’s Jamal Golden returned the second-half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
“I tried to tell the guys at halftime to go out and finish and start strong because we’re a second half team,” linebacker Kevin Reddick said. “Things just went wrong from the kickoff.”
UNC took the lead back on the next play from scrimmage, when Bryn Renner sprinted to his right before throwing across the field to Giovani Bernard, who spun past a defender and broke another tackle en route to a 78-yard touchdown. Bernard was escorted for about 30 yards with an extended block from freshman receiver Quinshad Davis.
“Coach is hard on us about blocking downfield, so when I saw him break loose, and I got in front of my man and made a big block,” Davis said.
But Georgia Tech drove 70 yards on its next possession, ending in a Robert Godhigh 4-yard touchdown run.
“Against that offense, you’ve gotta do your job, and we just didn’t do that,” Reddick said.
UNC returner Sean Tapley fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but Pete Mangum recovered. Unfortunately for UNC, Mangum only postponed disaster.
Renner attempted to lob a screen pass to Bernard, but Yellow Jacket defensive lineman Izaan Cross snagged the ball.
UNC’s defense held Georgia Tech after the fumble to a field goal which extended the Yellow Jackets’ lead to 44-36.
A failed fake punt on UNC’s next possession only added to Georgia Tech’s momentum.
“It was an option that he could run or punt and obviously we would’ve liked (Hibbard) to punt in that situation,” coach Larry Fedora said. “If you’re gonna run it, you better get the first down. He just made a bad choice, but it’s my responsibility because I gave him that choice.”
Godhigh scored a 27-yard touchdown on the next play.
Three minutes later, Godhigh jumped above two Tar Heel defenders for a 32-yard touchdown reception on third-and-14 for his third touchdown of the quarter, extending the Georgia Tech lead to 58-36.
Davis scored on an 11-yard touchdown reception just before the end of the quarter, but the Tar Heels’ third-quarter performance ended their perfect record at Kenan Stadium.
“We fell apart,” Fedora said.
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