CHAPEL HILL, NC - After giving up 559 yards and edging a win against Duke the week before, the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets' defense showed no sign of being able to cure any of its afflictions in Chapel Hill when it surrendered 636 yards to 21st-ranked Tar Heels in a devastating and physically taxing 48-20 loss.
When asked how he felt about the game during the post-game press conference, defensive back Corey Griffin didn't mince words. "It was definitely embarrassing. I'm embarrassed. The whole team is embarrassed," the redshirt junior said.
The Tech offense couldn't carry the team to a victory this time around as it failed to take full advantage of its opportunities even while racking up 518 yards. The offense only mustered to score on three out of six attempts in the red zone with just a single touchdown and a pair of field goals.
In woeful contrast, the defense gave up scores in all five red zone chances with only one being a field goal. UNC converted 8-of-13 third downs and only punted once.
As if not wanting to be left out, even special teams joined in on the game of adversity when often sure-footed Harrison Butker kicked a line drive right into the welcoming hands of UNC defenders.
"They didn't get any real penetration when the jumpers blocked it, we kicked it low. That was a huge play right before half, that cuts it to one score," lamented Head Coach Paul Johnson after the game as if he was playing pivotal mishaps of the game over-and-over in his head.
There was a glimmer of hope that the offense could have at least balanced out the defensive unit's struggles during Tech's third possession of the game. Quarterback Justin Thomas slow-played a counter option then whipped the ball over UNC's defensive backfield to a wide open Clinton Lynch who took it home for an 83-yard touchdown.
Nevertheless, the outlook started to look bleak with only a few minutes remaining in the third quarter when an attempt to keep the game to a single score broke down yet again and Carolina recovered a fumble by Dedrick Mills at Tech's own 44 yard line. Six plays and two third-down conversions later, UNC's tailback TJ Logan brushed by a couple of arm tackles then dove into the end zone for a 20-yard rushing touchdown to put Carolina up by three scores. This would end up being one of Tech's two turnovers of the game out of four fumbles total.
Coach Johnson summed the game up concisely: "We played about as poorly as you could play on defense and wasn't much better on offense or special teams so deadly combination."
Last but not least, what will make this loss a bitter pill to swallow for the Tech program is not only because of the final score but due to injuries to both RS SR starters Freddie Burden and Justin Thomas in the second half of the game. Neither returned for the remainder of the game.
Tech fans will be waiting with bated breaths for Thursday's official injury report as the Jackets will travel to Blacksburg to play against current ACC Coastal Division leader Virginia Tech on November 12th.