Blog: Tar Heels win 34-27 vs. Pitt
Posted November 16, 2013
Marquise Williams' two rushing touchdowns and Ryan Switzer's two punt returns led the Heels to a 34-27 win over Pittsburgh.
4:46 fourth quarter; UNC 34, Pitt 27: Ryan Switzer grabs his second punt return on the day, 61 yards for the go-ahead touchdown. UNC leads 34-27 with 4:46 to go in the game.
8:52 fourth quarter; Pitt 27, UNC 27: A TJ Logan fumble on the kick return gave the Panthers the ball on the UNC 13. Pitt scores on a 2-yard James Conner rush to make it 27-27.
9:49 fourth quarter; UNC 27, Pitt 20: Pitt's Chris Blewitt hits a 42 yard field goal to make it 27-20 UNC in the fourth.
13:28 fourth quarter; UNC 27, Pitt 17: Tom Savage connects with Bennet for a touchdown, momentum is on Pitts side. They close the gap to 10 points.
8:13 third quarter; UNC 27, Pitt 10: Tom Savage connects with Devin Street for a 33-yard touchdown pass. Pitt closes the gap, 27-10.
11:27 third quarter; UNC 27, Pitt 3: Pittsburgh quarterback Tom Savage is sacked by Kareem Martin and Darius Lipford for a loss of 18 yards. They force a fumbled that's recovered by Kareem Martin at the Pitt 12. A few plays later Thomas Moore hits a 27 yard field goal for the 27-3 lead.
1:03 second quarter; UNC 24, Pitt 3: UNC's Ryan Switzer returns the punt 65 yards for a touchdown, Heels go up 24-3 with a minute to go in the second quarter. That is Switzer's second straight game with a punt return.
5:14 second quarter; UNC 17, Pitt 3: Marquise Williams finds the end zone again on a 10-yard touchdown run. UNC takes a 17-3 lead over Pitt with 5:14 to go in the second quarter.
11:02 second quarter; UNC 10, Pitt 3: On 3rd and goal from the nine, Marquise Williams overthrows Eric Ebron in the end zone. The Tar Heels send out Thomas Moore for the 26-yard field goal to extend their lead to 10-3.
0:39 first quarter; UNC 7, Pitt 3: Marquise Williams rushes for a 16-yard touchdown after leading the Heels down the field in the air. UNC takes a 7-3 lead with 0:39 to go in the first quarter.
4:26 first quarter; Pitt 3, UNC 0: A pass interference call on the Tar Heels Tim Scott as Pitt reciever Tyler Boyd is tripped up in the end zone gives Pitt the ball on the Heels 13. On the next play Kareem Martin sacks Pitt QB Tom Savage who fumbles the ball. UNC recovers on the 24.
UNC freshman T.J. Logan is starting in place of the injured A.J. Blue.
10:09 first quarter; Pitt 3, UNC 0: After driving 64 yards down the field Pitt is forced to settle for a 28-yard field goal on their opening drive of the game. They lead the Tar Heels 3-0.
Pregame: The surging North Carolina Tar Heels (4-5, 3-3) will look to win their fourth straight game on Saturday (12:30 p.m., WRAL-TV) when they travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Panthers (5-4, 2-3).
The last meeting between the squads took place in 2009 Meineke Car Care Bowl, where the Panthers slipped by UNC in a 19-17 final. Despite the victory, Pitt still trails in the all-time series by a count of 4-3.
The Tar Heels began the 2013 campaign with five losses in six games, but over the last several weeks, the team has shown signs of life.
More specifically, UNC has posted three straight wins in order to move within one game of .500 on the season. Last week, the team dismantled Virginia at home, 45-14, which means the Heels have now outscored the opposition during this run by a combined 106-43.
North Carolina ran out to a 28-0 lead over the Cavaliers last weekend and never looked back, scoring at least one touchdown in every quarter, while holding the visitors scoreless through the first 30 minutes of action.
Quarterback Marquise Williams led the way for UNC as he converted 15-of-28 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns, while Quinshad Davis tossed a 29-yard TD to the signal caller as well. If all that were not enough, Williams also carried the ball 16 times for 46 yards and yet another score in the rout.
On defense, Norkeithus Otis stood tall for the Tar Heels with four tackles, three of which came behind the line of scrimmage and two of those against the opposing quarterback. Dominique Green chimed in with an interception return for a touchdown as well. Green now has three interceptions on the season, one behind Tre Boston who is also first on the unit with nine passes defended.
As a team, UNC ranks fifth in the conference and 23rd in the country with 12 INTs on defense, and because of that active presence in the secondary, the group is also fifth in the ACC in passing yards allowed (217.2 ypg).
With quarterback Bryn Renner now out for the season with a shoulder injury, Williams is getting his time in the spotlight and obviously made the most of it last week. He has completed 58.5 percent of his attempts for eight touchdowns and is also second on the unit with two rushing scores.
However, the so-called rushing attack for the Heels consists of only 118.7 ypg and nine touchdowns over as many games.
Last weekend, the Panthers hosted nationally-ranked Notre Dame and delivered a 28-21 victory in order to snap a two-game slide. The win was also the fifth of the season for the squad, placing it within a single victory of being considered for the postseason.
Pittsburgh fell behind last week against visiting Notre Dame, but just when they needed to break the trend of trading scores the Panthers looked to James Conner to fill the bill and he did so with a one-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. From there the Pittsburgh defense held on, limiting UND to slightly more than six minutes of possession in the final frame.
The Panthers made it into the win column even as they converted just 3-of-13 on third down and produced only 355 yards of total offense, compared to 456 for the Irish as they averaged more than seven yards per snap. Conner scored on two of his 10 rushing attempts in the meeting, finishing with 35 yards on the ground, while Tom Savage converted 22-of-35 passes for 243 yards and two scores to Devin Street.
The standout performer on defense for the Panthers was safety Ray Vinopal who was named the ACC Defensive Back of the Week after posting two interceptions, a forced fumble and seven tackles. Not only does Vinopal lead the team in interceptions now with three, he is also tied for third on the unit with 53 tackles through nine games.
As great as Vinopal was, the focus of the defense is still Aaron Donald who has made more than half of his 37 stops behind the line of scrimmage (19.5 TFL) and easily paces the group with nine sacks, not to mention nine quarterback hurries and a trio of forced fumbles.
Street is one of the most productive receivers in school history, but at this point he is actually second on the team in receptions with 44, trailing Tyler Boyd who has 53 catches for 729 yards and six touchdowns. Savage has tossed six TDs to Street as well, compiling 16 aerial scores against seven interceptions, while converting 61 percent of his attempts.