In a topsy-turvy 2019 — one punctuated at various points by season-opening comebacks and sextuple overtime losses, near-upsets against No. 1 and defeats at the hands of in-state little brothers — it’s only right that this is how Mack Brown, the old/new head coach of North Carolina football, became the winningest man in program history.
It happened on Saturday, in a 20-17 win against rival Duke, thanks to a game-sealing interception by linebacker Chazz Surratt. On first and goal from the UNC 2-yard line, Duke’s Quentin Harris handed the ball off to running back Deon Jackson, whose Tebow-esque jump-pass was snagged by Surratt with 14 seconds left to play.
Just more dramatics that are now old hat for Brown and his team.
“We’re TV darlings,” he said. “We come down to the last drive on every game we’ve played but one.”
Good ratings don’t always mean great teams. But for the 4-4 Tar Heels, this win had to be the sweetest yet.
A few notable numbers:
Five. That’s the number of UNC players who had rung the Victory Bell before Saturday. Losses in 2016, 2017 and 2018, all by 10 points or less, meant that North Carolina’s seniors were staring down the possibility of going winless for their careers against the Blue Devils.
Not anymore, though. Wide receiver Beau Corrales captured the locker room scene perfectly: “A lot of yelling.”