WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.- Time runs in short supply for a lot of football coaches. And it’s something North Carolina Tar Heel fans might tell you they had one more second of before falling to the Wake Forest Demon Deacons 24-18 on Friday night.
“I saw the official wave one finger in the air, saying one second, and the next thing I knew they were running off the field,” Tar Heels head coach Mack Brown said after the game.
But whether or not Michael Carter gave his team one second to work with or not, North Carolina simply ran out of time to complete a comeback.
“It’s on me,” Carolina quarterback Sam Howell remarked, “everybody was playing hard on offense and I’ve got to be better.”
Howell and the Heels took 18-and-a-half minutes to secure the team’s first, first down, and the offensive struggles continued as Carolina went only 2-16 on third down.
In stark contrast, Wake worked quickly– surgically even– every touchdown-scoring drive taking five players or fewer.
Jamie Newman led the charge for the Deacons, carrying the ball 19 times for 78 yards and adding 214 yards through the air. The redshirt-junior from Graham (NC) was a part of every touchdown-scoring play, rushing for two scores and completing a 51-yard pass to Sage Surratt for another.
Surratt notched career highs in catches (9) and yards (169) in the game as the Deacons cruised to an 21-0 halftime lead.
Meanwhile, the Wake Forest defense rushed the true-freshman Howell, sacking the Carolina quarterback six times. Carlos Basham led the way with 2.5 sacks and senior Justin Strnad added another of the half-dozen takedowns.
“We brought great tenacity to that game, I was proud of our guys,” said Wake Forest head coach Dave Clawson.
However, the Tar Heels mounted a fourth-quarter charge.
“Win the second half, win the fourth quarter, win the game… it’s what we preach on the sideline,” said Tar Heel running back Michael Carter, “and we really believe that.”
Howell found Carter in the endzone to bring Carolina to within two scores and, after a Wake three-and-out, hit Dyami Brown for another six points. UNC converted a two-point play to make it 21-18 with 6:09 to go in the fourth quarter.
“We should have been able to put that game away in the fourth quarter, but that’s what they do, they come back, they come back, they come back,” said Clawson.
Wake Forest responded with a five-minute drive that ended in a Nick Sciba field goal giving the Heels only 69 seconds to work with.
“That drive was huge for us… we forced them to use their timeouts and they never got a shot at the endzone,” said Clawson.
“I would have loved to have had that hail mary,” smirked Brown, but Carter stepping out of bounds as the clock hit triple zeros never gave Carolina the chance.
The Tar Heels will face Appalachian State (2-0) of the Sun Belt in Chapel Hill next Saturday at 3:30 p.m.
Wake Forest will stay in Winston-Salem to face Elon (1-1) in their homecoming matchup Saturday at noon, looking to finish non-conference play at a perfect 4-0.