When UNC students flooded Chris Smith Field on Saturday night, Mack Brown looked around for Noah Burnette.
But in the craziness of the moment — a field storming after a double-overtime, 47-45 Homecoming night rivalry victory over Duke — the placekicker was nowhere to be found. So the head coach retreated to Kenan Football Center to begin his postgame press conference, where he started off by praising Burnette’s standout performance.
Against Duke, Burnette made all six attempted field goals and three extra points to rack up 21 points on the night. On top of that, the junior stayed cool in two clutch moments, securing a game-tying field goal in the final seconds of regulation, directly followed by a second game-tying field goal in the first period of overtime.
“I’m really proud of Noah Burnette,” Brown said. “He stepped up, and twice late in the ballgame had a pressure kick that kept us alive and gave us a chance to win.”
On a night in which the Tar Heel offense was largely unable to convert in the red zone — squandering multiple touchdown opportunities and not notching a single passing touchdown until the final two minutes of regulation — Burnette remained consistent. While the Tar Heeldefense struggled once again, surrendering 209 yards to Duke in the fourth quarter alone, Burnette stayed poised.
He didn’t falter once all night, something that his teammates said didn’t surprise them.
And on that final kick of regulation, when it was just him, the ball and the goalposts 43 yards in front of him, all Burnette’s teammates could do was sit back and watch.
“I had a lot of confidence in him to make it,” junior tight end Bryson Nesbit said. “He’s made that kick all the time in practice. You practice what you play.”
Quarterback Drake Maye corroborated, stating there was nothing anybody could say or do to Burnette in the moment — it was up to him.