Nothing should tarnish what was an impressive debut for Brown and his staff, coming off of back-to-back nine-loss seasons under Larry Fedora. South Carolina has been a solid bowl team for a few years now under Will Muschamp.
Still, one of the team’s decisions late in the game raised a lot of eyebrows, and could have been a total disaster. Luckily for Tar Heel fans, UNC held on for a 24-20 win.
With under two minutes left in the game, UNC picked off Gamecock quarterback Jake Bentley. South Carolina only had one timeout left, so the game should’ve been essentially over.
The Tar Heels elected to kneel things out. The only problem: on fourth down, there were still 11 seconds left on the clock. UNC took a knee rather than punt, giving South Carolina the ball at midfield. There was potential for two plays, or at least one heave to the end zone for a game winning touchdown.
UNC TOOK A KNEE AT MIDFIELD AND GAVE THE BALL BACK?!
— Brad Crawford (@BCrawford247) August 31, 2019
UNC took knee? Wouldn’t it be crazy if South Carolina………😬
— Anthony Becht (@Anthony_Becht) August 31, 2019
I can't even think right now. I know UNC won, but what in the world were they doing taking a knee on 4th? I need an explanation.
— Dr. Brett (@Bacyardwrestler) August 31, 2019
The Gamecocks couldn’t capitalize at all, though. Bentley was sacked on the next play, and UNC ran back what appeared to be a fumble for a touchdown. The play was instead ruled dead, but the result was the same: a win for the Tar Heels.
— Carolina Football (@TarHeelFootball) August 31, 2019
Again, that decision wound up being inconsequential, but I definitely want to hear from Mack Brown about whatever was going on there, because it could have been an all-time mistake if things had gone differently on that final play.