Recap & Rundown: North Carolina vs. Syracuse

AP Photo/Gerry Broome

THE BLUE FALL SHORT

In what was a finish marred by costly mistakes and missed opportunities, the boys from Chapel Hill dropped another chance at victory inside Kenan Memorial Stadium last week, by a score of 22-19 against division rival Virginia Tech. With the loss, the Tar Heels fall to 1-4 overall, and 1-2 in Atlantic Coast Conference play.

Inability to convert in the red zone continues to pull North Carolina under, with six of their seven trips inside ending in attempts at a field goal on Saturday. Senior kicker Freeman Jones matched his career high of made attempts with 4, coinciding with misses from both 32 & 43 yards in the second and third quarters, respectively.

Sophomore tailback Michael Carter was one of the only driving forces, seeing double-digit carries for the first time this season, amounting 165 total yards on the ground with 18 touches total. This performance set a new career high for the Navarre, Florida native in rushing yards, and resulted in being recognized with ACC Player of the Week honors.

Photo credit – The Tribune

THE ORANGE FALL OUT

Despite a quick start followed by a lightning delay in the middle of play, New York’s own couldn’t sustain enough to force the hand of former Big East foe Pittsburgh last weekend, falling 44-37 in overtime at Heinz Field. This loss makes two conference heartbreakers in a row for Syracuse, after a near upset of the powerhouse Clemson Tigers in Death Valley in the week prior. The Orange head into this week with a 4-2 overall record, on the backside looking in at 1-2 through three ACC games.


“The guys in my room, along with myself, are really hurting,” Syracuse head coach Dino Babers noted to reporters. “Obviously, we are really disappointed that we couldn’t come home with a victory, but we didn’t give it away. This was a really hard-fought contest between two teams that really wanted to win. They just made a couple more plays than us.”

2018 Athlon Preseason Third Team All-ACC quarterback Eric Dungey struggled mightily on the day, settling for an 18-38 completion total on 195 yards, and two interceptions for his first multi-turnover game of the season for the Orange. Despite the unusual performance, senior captain Dungey is still the only active FBS quarterback with 6,000+ passing yards and 1,000+ yards on the ground.

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

GAME NOTES

* The upcoming Homecoming matchup between the Orange-Tar Heels marks just the 5th meeting between the school’s all-time, and their first as intraconference members in the ACC.

* Their last meeting came in 2003’s season opener, ending in a 49-47 triple-overtime thriller in favor of Syracuse.

* After true freshman Cade Fortin left his first career start due to a leg injury, North Carolina’s quarterback situation is unclear, with Nathan Elliott seemingly being the option despite erratic play.

THE RUNDOWN

North Carolina rushed for a season-high 235 yards last week, its second straight-game going over 200 yards on the ground this season, following a 215-yard performance against Miami. Syracuse’s rush defense has been abysmal, allowing 468 total rushing yards on the ground in consecutive games. Look for the Heels to lean on the run, and more specifically on the legs of Michael Carter and Antonio Williams on Saturday.

The Syracuse defense recorded three takeaways Saturday (1 interception, 2 fumble recoveries). The Orange have forced at least one turnover in every game this season, and currently hold a streak of seven consecutive games with at least one takeaway dating back to the 2017 season. North Carolina is tied for third amongst current FBS squads with an average of 2.6 turnovers allowed per game. Look for the Orange to force the issue on defense, creating pressure and havoc for an inexperienced Carolina offense.

Tar Heel Blue/Joe Bray

GAME TIME

North Carolina at Syracuse – Kickoff is October 20th, at 12:20 pm.

Game will be aired on ACCNE.

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