Remembering the Good Times: Win vs. Georgia Tech


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 ends the series with the most exciting game to watch in 2014 — the win over Georgia Tech.

Win over Liberty

Win over SDSU

Win over Virginia

Win over Pitt

Win over Duke


By the time Paul Johnson’s Yellow Jackets rolled into Kenan Stadium in mid-October of last season, the gleeful excitement of the Carolina fan base was palpable throughout Chapel Hill. Just not for the football team. No, with four straight losses while giving up an average of 51 points in those games, that ship had sailed. But a basketball exhibition game against Fayetteville State in a mere six days had the Tar Heel faithful all worked up into a frenzy.

Despite the fact that most everyone had already written off the remainder of the 2014 football season and opted to start analyzing Roy Williams’ choice of suit jacket, there were still six games remaining to be played on the gridiron. So on one of Charles Kuralt’s famous brisk October nights, I made my way over to the Blue Zone to witness first hand how many points the triple option could post on what had recently looked like a Pop Warner defense.

More from North Carolina Tar Heels

Side note: when Carolina is bad at football, getting seats in the Blue Zone is easier than passing a Deborah Crowder AFAM paper class. (I also sat in the Blue Zone for the 2012 Georgia Tech game in which the Yellow Jackets hung 68 points on the Heels. That was the first football game my daughter ever attended.)

This was one of those games where Larry Fedora’s infamous quote was right on the money. Before I had even gotten to my seat with my first plate of BBQ nachos, Zach Laskey had already posted a touchdown for the Jackets. I remember because I had just traded him off of my ACC Fantasy Football roster earlier that week, so of course he immediately became a productive player. Every burger, cheese fry, popcorn, or ice cream run after that (did you know the food in the Blue Zone is free?) typically ended with me returning to my seat asking who had scored the most recent touchdown.

For the record, for the Heels the answer was typically Marquise Williams. The dude completed a school record 38 passes for 390 yards and four TDs to go along with his 73 rushing yards and another TD on the ground for good measure. When GT was putting points on the board, it was typically Zach Laskey or Justin Thomas (my Fantasy opponent’s QB that week…go figure).

With around 12:30 to go in the game, Carolina held an 11 point lead. Given the porousness of the defense, that lead would have actually been safer in the Dean Dome than it was in Kenan. With a little under eight minutes remaining, Tech cut the lead to 42-37 and then got the ball back with 5:24 to play.

Paul Johnson is the master of milking the clock. With an average of something like 3.8 passes per game, the Jackets spend most of their time rushing the ball and watching the time tick down. It seemed safe to assume that they’d roll the game down to under a minute to play and then waltz into the end zone for a score. But Carolina’s defense would have none of that. No, with a little over three minutes remaining, they watched (literally, just stood there and stared) as DeAndre Smelter ran a reverse 75 yards down the field for a touchdown.

That gave Marquise Williams way too much time, and the Heels drove 75 yards in 2:56, scoring the go ahead touchdown with nine seconds remaining. Justin Thomas had two chances to make a miracle happen for Tech, but he couldn’t do it, and Carolina held on for the victory, improving to 3-4 on the season while handing the Jackets one of their only two regular season losses of the 2014 campaign.

While the exhausting, back and forth battle of that game probably didn’t reignite the fan base’s passion for football, it did make for an exciting way to kill three or four hours as everyone waited for basketball season to arrive. Good times.