Remembering the Good Times: Win Against Pitt


Remembering the good times is a series Keeping It Heel will run leading up to the 2015 football season recalling last year’s six wins, or, the good times of the season. Today, KIH remembers the win against Pitt.

Win over Liberty

Win over SDSU

Win over Virginia


By the time Carolina faced Pitt in their tenth game of the 2014 season, their season was falling down around them.  A top-25 team before the season, the Heels were 4-5 and the defense was well on their way to setting records for futility.  After being embarrassed by East Carolina, Clemson and Miami, the Heels were in danger of not even making a bowl game.  But UNC wasn’t going to give in just yet.  With three games left, Carolina needed two wins to be bowl eligible. And with games against Duke and NC State in the final two weeks, the Heels desperately needed a victory against a 4-5 Pitt team.  UNC got it, but it wasn’t easy.

More from North Carolina Tar Heels

While this battle was not the highest scoring game that Carolina played last season, it was certainly one of the most exciting.  Things didn’t look good early for the Tar Heels, as Pitt jumped out to a 14-0 lead after the first quarter.  Most concerning was the defense’s inability to stop James Conner, the ACC’s leading rusher and Player of the Year.  Conner had two touchdown runs and over 100 yards rushing in the first quarter alone.  But the defense made some adjustments and “only” allowed Conner to rush for 120 yards and two touchdowns the rest of the way.  While this is by no means fantastic run defense, it kept Carolina in the game and allowed the offense to get going.

Nov 15, 2014; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Marquise Williams (12) looks to pass in the first half at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The offense, especially Marquise Williams, did their best with what the defense gave them and put up points in bunches.  Williams had two touchdown runs in the second quarter and the Heels cut the lead to 21-13 at the break.  Then, on the first drive of the second half, Williams found Ryan Switzer on a screen pass and Switzer dusted the Pittsburgh defense on his way to a 63-yard touchdown that cut the lead to 21-19.  After the teams traded touchdowns, UNC trailed 28-26 heading into the fourth quarter.

Williams quickly changed this, scoring his third touchdown of the day on a 50-yard dash past the Pitt defense.  Unfortunately, the defense couldn’t hold Pitt, and James Conner scored his third touchdown of the day with a little over three and a half minutes remaining.  But the Heels offense wasn’t done.  The Heels drove 75 yards and T.J. Logan finished off the drive with a one-yard run with fifty seconds remaining.  That left the game in the hands of Carolina’s defense.  And just as they did at the end of the San Diego State game earlier in the year, the defense forced a turnover that sealed the victory.  With the ball on the Pitt 27, quarterback Chad Voytik scrambled and broke free for a 21-yard pick-up.  But in thrilling fashion, Malik Simmons knocked the ball loose and Carolina recovered, completing the comeback.

“We had a lot of guys who were very resilient. [They] persevered and kept playing when things didn’t look good. … We talked about it during the week, that it didn’t matter what the adversity was. [We talked about] if we just keep playing and stay together we’d be all right, and we found a way to get the win.” — Larry Fedora

I’ll admit, after the first quarter, I was worried that the Heels might get blown out like they did against Clemson and ECU.  But, to their credit, they dug their heels in (pardon the pun) and fought hard to win the game.  Say what you will about Carolina’s poor defense and their inability to live up to their potential last year.  But, aside from late in a few blowouts, the Heels showed a lot of heart and fought through a lot of adversity.  In the victory over Pitt, and then the big win over Duke the next week, UNC finally got their reward for all the effort they put in during the season.