There was the overtime loss in the rain in 1999 and the listless performance on a Thursday night stage in 2001 one week after visiting Clemson and pounding the Tigers.
There was the shanked punt in 2007 that set up Georgia Tech’s winning field goal and the holding penalty that negated a Ryan Switzer touchdown in 2013.
The Tar Heels had found every way to lose at Grant Field since their 16-13 win in 1997, dropping eight straight to teams coached by George O’Leary, Chan Gailey and Paul Johnson.
But Saturday that streak finally came to an end, just as the three-decade victory drought at Virginia ended in 2010.
With Marquise Williams rushing for 148 yards, throwing for 134 and even receiving for 37 more, the Tar Heels rallied from behind to stun Tech 38-31 and open their ACC season with a victory.
The Tar Heels didn’t lose a fumble or throw an interception, though to be sure there was an easy pick there for the offering near the goal line midway through the third quarter.
Tar Heel coach Larry Fedora was asked about Williams “answering any questions” about his ability in the aftermath of being benched in favor of Mitch Trubisky a week earlier against Delaware.
“He didn’t answer any questions from the staff,” Fedora said. “We all believe in him, we never had a doubt. He did a great job, he took care of the football, that’s the biggest thing today—no turnovers today. We talked about it all week, if he took care of the ball, we’d have a chance to win.”
The Tar Heels now have an open date to rest and recuperate before meeting Wake Forest in Kenan Stadium at 7 p.m. Oct. 17.
“We need to be smart with how we handle the week,” Fedora said. “We need to get some guys healthy and build off the good things this team is doing right now.”
Certainly one area of focus will be the kicking game. Though Nick Weiler has been solid as a place kicker and Switzer has re-emerged as a return threat, other areas of the kicking game have issues. Carolina has yet to find a consistent punter, and its kick-off coverage allowed a 31-yard return by Tech to open the game Saturday.
“I have a lot of concerns on special teams,” Fedora said. “As important as that phase is to our program, we can’t have the problems we’ve had. We’ll give that a lot of time and attention over the off-week.”