Chat: UNC's comeback falls short
Posted September 13, 2012
Updated September 15, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Final: 39-34 Louisville
Romar Morris took a short screen pass and broke through the Cardinals' defense for a 50-yard touchdown, bringing UNC within five after a failed two-point conversion attempt. On the ensuing kickoff return, UNC forced a fumble and recovered. The Tar Heels will take over at Louisville's 24, down by five.
4:15 4Q, Louisville 39-34
North Carolina's defense forces Louisville to punt from inside its own 10-yard line, and the Tar Heels came up with a block. Bryn Renner hit Eric Ebron on a screen pass on the first play of the next drive, and the tight end took it into the end zone to cut Louisville's lead to 11.
8:22 4Q, Louisville 39-28
North Carolina tacks another touchdown on the board, this time on a Bryn Renner pass to Erik Highsmith. Romar Morris helped get the Tar Heels down the field on a long screen pass and a couple of first-down carries.
12:02 4Q, Louisville 39-21
UNC hasn't allowed a touchdown yet this half, but Louisville ran a large chunk of time off the clock and added three points to its lead on a John Wallace field goal.
13:38 4Q, Louisville 39-14
UNC strikes first in the second quarter on a Bryn Renner pass to Eric Ebron in the end zone. The Tar Heels stopped Louisville on fourth down to get the ball before their 80-yard scoring drive.
5:09 3Q, Louisville 36-14
Halftime: Louisville 36, UNC 7
Louisville answers UNC's score with a 10-play, 69-yard touchdown drive capped by a Teddy Bridgewater pass to Nick Heuser.
1:04 2Q, Louisville 36-7
North Carolina finally gets on the board more than halfway through the second quarter. Bryn Renner found Romar Morris wide open down the right sideline for a 44-yard pass.
6:19 2Q, Louisville 29-7
Louisville is simply having its way with UNC in every facet of the game. UNC punts to pin the Cards back at their own 16, but they scored yet another rushing touchdown just five plays later.
8:00 2Q, Louisville 29-0
UNC's Romar Morris fumbled the ball inside UNC's own 50, and Louisville responded with a 45-yard scoring drive. Teddy Bridgewater found a wide-open Eli Rogers for the 15-yard touchdown pass.
11:25 2Q, Louisville 22-0
The Louisville defense forced UNC into a three-and-out, and the Cardinals added three more points to their lead by chipping in a short field goal. Nothing is working for the Tar Heels in the early going.
2:25 1Q, Louisville 15-0
Bryn Renner's screen pass was picked off at UNC's 32, and Louisville quarterback Teddy Bridgewater found Charles Gaines wide open in the end zone one play later. The Cardinals went for two again, but failed this time as well.
8:01 1Q, Louisville 12-0
Louisville gets on the board first, as the Cardinals march down the field on UNC's defense. The scoring drive was five plays and 62 yards in just more than two minutes. UNC's offense stalled quickly to start the game and the defense couldn't stop the run on Louisville's opening drive. A failed two-point conversion leaves the score at 6-0.
9:31 1Q, Louisville 6-0
Although the Tar Heels are just 1-1, they are a strong football team that lost in a tight road contest to ACC and in-state rival Wake Forest last weekend. The decision came down to the last few minutes, with the Demon Deacons adding the winning score with just over two minutes remaining. North Carolina suffered without lead rusher Giovani Bernard in the game, and it is unclear if he will be available for this matchup, although head coach Larry Fedora is optimistic.
"I don't think he will ever not be ready. He wants to be out there on every snap," Fedora said while adding how Bernard's absence effected the team, "There's no doubt (we missed him). You have a player of his caliber and is such a big part of what we do offensively."
North Carolina confirmed Friday that Bernard did not travel with the team to Kentucky.
The Heels will really need every advantage they can get against Louisville, which has looked impressive through the first two weeks of the season. After posting a 32-14 rout of in-state rival Kentucky, the Cardinals followed up with a decisive 35-7 win over Missouri State. Louisville is now 38-18 against non-conference opponents since 2002. With the win the Cardinals moved up from No. 23 to the 19th spot in the national polls.
This game will give each side a chance to split a 3-3 tie in the all-time series. North Carolina won the last meeting 14-7 in a tight contest in Chapel Hill last season. The Cardinals won the two previous matchups before that loss.
Currently, North Carolina is ranked second in the ACC in scoring (44.5 ppg), but that is largely due to a 62-0 win over FCS opponent Elon in week one. In last weekend's loss to Wake Forest the Heels were held to a more pedestrian 27 points on 428 total yards, which narrowly edged Wake Forest's production (426). The real difference in the game was in the red zone.
While North Carolina twice settled for field goals in five trips, the Demon Deacons converted all four of their chances into touchdowns.
Even without Bernard the Heels still relied heavily on the run with 42 carries as a team. A.J. Blue filled in as the primary back with 106 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. Romar Morris also had a solid game with 71 yards and a score of his own.
The passing game was also able to rack up yards thanks to a 23-for-39 performance from Bryn Renner that netted him 271 yards and a touchdown, although he did throw a pick in the game.
Just like the offense, North Carolina's defensive statistics this season are misleading due to the week one win. Currently ranked fourth in the ACC in points allowed per game (14.0), the Heels allowed 28 points to Wake Forest and could not make enough stops down the stretch to give the squad a win.
The defense did play well on third down holding Wake Forest to just a 4-for-12 effort, but failed to get consistent pressure with only one sack as a team.
Tre Boston led the defense with 11 total tackles in the game and Kareem Martin racked up half of his tackles (five total) for loss.
Louisville's offense has made a habit of executing long scoring drives so far this season. The Cardinals had four different scoring drives of at least eight plays and 70 yards in the win over Missouri State. In the previous game the Cardinals also had three similar drives, including a 15-play, 99-yard drive on the opening possession.
Such consistent play has made Louisville the second-best offense in the Big East, in terms of yards per game (470.5), this season. At the helm is quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, who has been sensational through the first two games. The sophomore currently ranks third in the nation in completion percentage (81.7) and is third in the Big East in passing yards.
Bridgewater completed 30-of-39 passes for 344 yards and a pair of scores against Missouri State.
"Teddy is doing a great job spreading the ball around," head coach Charlie Strong. He is looking down field, and he can feel the pressure, but does a great job getting rid of the ball."
The Cardinals didn't rack up 475 yards of total offense in the game without some help from other players. Senorise Perry rushed for 73 yards to lead all ball carriers in the game and also punched on in for a score. Jeremy Wright played well in a backup capacity with 43 yards on 10 carries.
Defensively, Louisville looked strong in the win, surrendering only 249 total yards and keeping Missouri State to just seven points. The defense also held the Bears to a 4-for-13 performance on third down and had to face Missouri State's offense just once in the red zone.
Calvin Pryor had a team-high eight tackles and also recorded an interception in the game, while Hakeem Smith had six tackles including one for loss. As a team the Cardinals had only four tackles in the backfield.
Louisville was certainly considered a favorite to win the Big East coming into this season but the Cardinals were not an obvious choice to make the national rankings. Through two games the Cardinals look like they belong and a win against North Carolina would further cement that notion. With Bridgewater playing at such a high level, a 3-0 start and another move up the rankings should be in order.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Louisville 31, North Carolina 23