“We’ve emphasized turnovers as much as any team in the country could,” Fedora said. “We just haven’t created anything. I had kind of given up on the thought. Just as soon as you do, it happens.”
Senior free safety Dominquie Green ended the infamous streak for UNC with his interception in the second quarter on Saturday. With first-year Myles Dorn in excellent position, The Citadel quarterback Dominique Allen had to make a tough throw over the top of Dorn. And Green was there waiting for the overthrown pass.
Green — like many defensive backs earlier this season — initially bobbled the pass, but he was able to gain control and make a run for it. He then followed a convoy of defenders-turned-blockers 58 yards to the end zone, where he was mobbed by his teammates.
It was Green’s sixth career interception — the second he returned for a touchdown.
“It felt good,” Green said. “We’ve been practicing hard to attack the ball, and I knew that this was an opportunity to break this little monkey off our back.”
Heading into the game, the Tat Heel secondary had become increasingly aware of its inability to create an interception. But the frustration became motivation.
“In practice, we were going after the ball no matter what,” Green said. “That’s one thing I was thinking about the whole week: We were so close and had so many opportunities to get the ball and we didn’t take advantage of it. I was thinking the whole week, ‘Once the ball touches our hands, we gotta get it.’”
For a secondary that boasts one of the better starting cornerback pairs in the country in Des Lawrence and M.J. Stewart, it was a humbling experience.
“It was a bad feeling,” Green said. “We knew it was all on us. And to see that we were the only team in college football that didn’t have an interception, we knew that we had to make a change.”
While North Carolina didn’t overhaul its defense, Stewart pointed to the little things the defensive backs did to better prepare themselves when passes came their way.
“These past three weeks, we’ve been on the ball machine after practice,” Stewart said. “We made a big emphasis on going to get the ball instead of waiting for it to come to us.”
It would be easy for Green to come into practice next week and remind his teammates he was the hero who broke the curse. But Stewart would be surprised if that happened.
“Green’s pretty mellow,” Stewart said. “So it’s gonna be the reverse, and we’re gonna let him hear about it.
“Every time we see him, we’re gonna call him pick-six Green.”