VIRGINIA 22, NORTH CAROLINA 20
Cavaliers kick up Heels
Virginia uses 5 field goals, including 1 that was ruled no good, to win on road
(Raleigh) News & Observer
University of North Carolina coach Ken Browning embraces Hakeem Nicks (88) after he scored on a 53-yard pass completion from quarterback T. J. Yates in the third quarter against Virginia, Saturday, September 15, 2007 at Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Virginia defeated UNC 22-20. (Robert Willett/Raleigh News & Observer/MCT)
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CHAPEL HILL --Back judge Virgil Valdez looked the other way as Virginia kicker Chris Gould's 48-yard field goal just cleared the cross bar.
Unfortunately for North Carolina, two Cavaliers managers did not.
In a 22-20 loss Saturday plagued by Tar Heels miscues, perhaps it was fitting that North Carolina's margin of defeat was decided by instant replay's third-quarter correction.
"I told the team this before the season started, that there are going to be an awful lot of games that come down to a very small margin of whether or not you have a chance to win the football game," said North Carolina coach Butch Davis, whose team committed three turnovers, forced none, allowed Cavaliers tailback Cedric Peerman a career-high 186 yards rushing and spotted Virginia a 16-0 lead.
"More times than not ... it's not the number of great plays you make, but the number of poor plays you make."
And how opponents take advantage.
After North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates (25-for-38, three touchdowns) found receiver Hakeem Nicks for a 4-yard touchdown pass to cut the Tar Heels' deficit to 16-7 at halftime, the Cavaliers (2-1, 2-0 ACC) opened the third quarter with a march down the field culminating in a Gould field goal attempt, his fourth of five for the game.
The boot was low and to the left, and was called no good even though Valdez, one of two officials standing below the crossbar and responsible for the watching and ruling on the kick, appeared on replay to duck and turn away as the ball slid inside the left low corner.
However, two Virginia managers who retrieved the ball, as well as Gould, insisted to sideline coaches the kick was good, leading Cavs coach Al Groh to use a coach's challenge. The ruling was overturned.
Virginia 19, North Carolina 7.
"We were getting ready to go on offense, it was a good momentum swing for us, having them miss that kick," Yates said. "That really killed our momentum."
Maybe, but not as much as their own mistakes did.
Yates found Nicks again for their second touchdown connection, this time a 53-yarder during which Nicks dragged his defender the final 5 yards into the end zone.
That cut the deficit to 19-14.
But early in the fourth quarter, with the Tar Heels driving in Cavaliers territory, Virginia defensive end Chris Long leaped and intercepted a Yates pass at the line.
After another Virginia field goal, North Carolina was in the Cavs' territory again when halfback Zack Pianalto fumbled a catch, and Virginia's Mike Parker recovered.
North Carolina (1-2, 0-1) scored again, this time on a pass to Richard Quinn, but the tying, two-point conversion failed when Nate Collins batted down Yates' pass at the line.
With less than 2 minutes remaining, North Carolina's offense never got the ball back.
Despite 339 passing yards from Yates and three sacks by defensive end Hilee Taylor, Tar Heels mistakes caught up with them.
As did that field goal correction.
"Obviously that worked out greatly for us," Groh said. "Those three points were pretty important."