UNC 12, UConn 10
By Pat Eaton-Robb
EAST HARTFORD, Conn. ó North Carolina needed to make a big defensive stop and wound up getting some help from Connecticut’s Dan Ryan.
The Huskies’ senior offensive tackle was flagged for holding defensive end Robert Quinn in the end zone with 1:32 left in the game Saturday, giving the No. 19 Tar Heels a safety and a 12-10 comeback win.”I had him beat around the corner,” Quinn said. “I was just out there trying to make a play, and then I saw the flag.”
The play capped a 12-point fourth quarter for UNC (2-0). Casey Barth started the comeback with a 22-yard field goal and T.J. Yates led the team on a 13-play drive that ended with his 2-yard touchdown pass to tight end Zack Pianalto with 2:36 left.
Pianalto had to be taken from the field in an air cast after suffering a subtalar dislocation of his right foot jumping up and down after the score, another bizarre moment from a game that ended in crazy fashion.
After the safety, UConn recovered its onside free kick but couldn’t get into field-goal range.
“I told the chancellor, ‘That’s why you don’t see any 100-year-old football coaches,’ ” North Carolina coach Butch Davis said.
UConn (1-1) was playing without its best defensive player, injured linebacker Scott Lutrus, and lost starting quarterback Zack Frazer to a knee injury late in the third quarter.
The Huskies’ defense held North Carolina scoreless with just 134 yards of offense through three quarters. UConn sacked Yates six times and intercepted him twice.
A 47-yard field goal from Dave Teggart at the halftime horn gave UConn a 3-0 lead. The Huskies seemed poised for an upset after cornerback Robert McClain batted Yates’ pass into the hands of Twyon Martin at the Tar Heels’ 26 late in the third quarter. Tailback Jordan Todman dragged several defenders the final 4 yards for the score, putting the Huskies up 10-0.
“We slugged it out for the whole game,” UConn coach Randy Edsall said.
Yates, who completed 23 of 32 passes for 233 yards, found his groove in the fourth quarter. He led the Tar Heels on a 78-yard drive that ended with Barth’s field goal and marched another 78 yards when UNC got the ball back, eating up 6:36 before finding Pianalto in the end zone.
“We were just making adjustments on the run, throwing formations we hadn’t even practiced all week,” Yates said. “(We’d) pick things up, draw something in the dirt, see if that works, try something new out and see if that works. Once that was working, we just kept at it and kept at it and moved the ball down the field.”
UNC’s defense held UConn to 196 yards and dominated in the fourth quarter.
UConn got the ball at its 20 after the tying touchdown, but a snap over backup quarterback Cody Endres’ head on second down put the ball at the 8. Endres scrambled away from the pass rush on third down and completed a 16-yard pass that would have given the Huskies a fourth-and-6. There was a flag in the end zone, and the safety gave UNC the lead.
Ryan said he’s not going to let the call, or the negative attention, ruin his season.
“Nobody wants to be the guy sitting in this chair right now having to answer these questions,” he said. “I would rather be in the locker room celebrating with my team. Unfortunately, it did not work out that way today. This one game is not going to end our season, so we just have to get back out there and keep working hard.”
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