The Tar Heels put forth a valiant effort Saturday at Notre Dame, taking a one-point lead into the fourth quarter but succumbing to two crucial penalties and giving up a couple of big plays on defense.
The No. 6 ranked Fighting Irish emerged with a 50-43 victory, leaving the Tar Heels 2-4 and in a similar position to where they were at mid-season in 2013. Carolina dropped a heartbreaker at home to Miami in mid-October 27-23 and fell to 1-5.
From there the Heels won five in a row and closed out the year with a solid win over Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl.
“Our guys finally got tired of losing, our young kids grew up and we finally got some confidence and got on a roll,” Tar Heel coach Larry Fedora said. “I hope the same thing can happen again this year.”
The Carolina offence bounced back from its sketchy performance against Virginia Tech the week before to play well at Notre Dame, with QB Marquise Williams leading the way. The Tar Heels were 9-of-17 on third downs and had four touchdown drives against one of the nation’s top defenses.
“We moved the chains and got in a rhythm,” Fedora said. “At times early in the game, we were moving as well as we have all year.”
Carolina returns to Kenan Stadium for a 7 p.m. kickoff Saturday against Georgia Tech, a team it’s long struggled against with the Yellow Jackets’ option-based offense.
“They do a great job controlling the ball and keeping your offense off the field,” Fedora said. “Last year we had 10 possessions and one of them was for 24 seconds at the end of the first half, so we really just had nine possessions. They are very efficient with their possessions, so you have value each one of your’s. You can’t have a guy flinch or jump offside or get behind the chains. That’s important all of the time but even more so when you have fewer possessions.”