“First, I was reading the field side, I didn’t see anything coming that way,” Morrison said. “I saw the quarterback go to the boundary and I saw the running back flare out, then I just saw the ball in the air. And I went to go get it ... I just caught the ball and ran it.”
Although the game savior had a cool demeanor postgame, Morrison’s completion of the first pick-two in school history impressed his teammates and coaches alike.
“I liked it a lot,” Brown said, who had only seen that happen one other time over his long career.
With Myles Wolfolk out after being deemed academically ineligible, that left Morrison as the most veteran presence on the secondary and in a crucial position to make key plays. With Morrison taking on the responsibility of playing defensive back, nickel, corner and free safety, Morrison is becoming the Swiss Army knife of UNC’s defense.
“Trey is big for us,” senior linebacker Chazz Surratt said. “He’s going to be a big part of our defense this year. He made a really big play at the end, so I’m proud of him.”
Morrison proved to be the player of the game, but the Tar Heels provided a list of highlight-worthy performances that make it hard to choose a favorite. Maybe junior running back Javonte Williams’ two touchdowns and 113 yards. Or Surratt’s eight tackles, or senior running back Michael Carter’s 121 yards or maybe even sophomore quarterback Sam Howell showing off his speed in the running game could be a moment of spotlight.
Despite the Tar Heels getting to dance with Brown in the locker room on Saturday and getting on the plane back to Chapel Hill with a thrilling win under their belts, the victory was less sweet when considering why UNC was in position to give the game away at the end: penalties.
Maybe the 10 penalties for 96 yards lost could be attributed to the 20-day break prior to Saturday’s game, but Howell said he believes they just played sloppy.
“We just need to play smarter football,” Howell said. “There’s no excuse for the penalties.”
With the penalty trouble, it seemed like the Tar Heels were going to have a repeat of the hectic overtime loss against Virginia Tech last year. But, again, Morrison had other ideas, and Brown was able to dance.
“We have made a tremendous amount of progress since we won two games two years ago,” Brown said. “We won seven games last year, and we can go home disappointed in some things that we need to improve, so we’re in a better place than we have been. I like having things we need to fix and winning.”
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