Fedora: Tar Heel seniors are running out of time
North Carolina’s defense made plays throughout Thursday’s 27-23 loss to No. 10 Miami, but it didn’t make enough to stop the Hurricanes’ rushing offense in the fourth quarter.
Miami running back Dallas Crawford ran for a pair of 3-yard touchdowns in the final period as the Hurricanes erased a 10-point deficit. The redshirt sophomore ran for a career-high 137 yards in place of top rusher Duke Johnson, who left the game with an undisclosed injury in the first quarter.
Preseason hopes of challenging for an ACC Coastal Division title have all but faded away for North Carolina (1-5, 0-3), now facing an uphill climb just to get back to .500.
“It’s a tough thing when you invest so much and you just can’t find a way for whatever reason,” said UNC head coach Larry Fedora. “It gets frustrating. It’s tough. It’s tough on a group of seniors. They’re running out of time. It’s tough on this football team.”
North Carolina, donning black uniforms for what was billed as “Zero Dark Thursday,” entered the game with four interceptions on the season. The Tar Heels equaled that number against Miami, picking off quarterback Stephen Morris four times.
Freshman defensive back Dominique Green secured his first two interceptions and senior safety Tre Boston and junior bandit Norkeithus Otis each had a pick.
Crawford capped a 13-play, 90-yard scoring drive with 16 seconds to play in the game to put the Hurricanes ahead for good.
“We didn’t stop the run on the last two drives,” said Fedora. “We just didn’t make a play when we needed to make a play down there. Maybe it was worn down, I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. I know that those guys gave everything they had tonight all the way to the end.”
Miami put up 556 yards of total offense to North Carolina’s 500.
The Tar Heels went up 14-13 with 9:50 to play in the second quarter on Bryn Renner’s 20-yard pass to Quinshad Davis and the Tar Heels didn’t relinquish the lead until Crawford’s second score.
“We’re disappointed,” said North Carolina senior defensive end Kareem Martin, who had eight tackles, including four for losses of 18 yards. “We feel like we had the game in our hands and we dropped it.”
The Tar Heels have dropped seven straight to ranked opponents and haven’t beaten a top-10 team since a 2004 win over No. 4 Miami in Chapel Hill.
North Carolina is back in Kenan Stadium next Saturday against Boston College (3-3, 1-2).
“We can’t just dwell on this Miami loss because we’ve got Boston College coming in next Saturday,” said Martin. “We look at the film and we learn from it. But we have to move on because we’ve got another ACC game next week.”
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