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The Turning Point: 4th and 2

Pitt's defense had a chance to be the hero late in yesterday's loss to North Carolina, but came up short when the game was on the line.

Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

The number of plays you can point to in Pitt's 40-35 loss to North Carolina yesterday are many. Too many to even name in this column. The partial block of Chris Blewitt's kick that would have made it 17-0 early comes to mind. How many near miss sacks did Pitt have on Marquise Williams, especially on big third downs throughout the game? UNC's Quinshad Davis had a monster catch on a third-and-long play later in the game as well. I believe he was falling down out bounds and hauled in a pretty poor throw to keep a TD drive alive. We can only pick one though and we went late in yesterday's game to find it.

The Panthers' James Conner had just given Pitt a 35-34 lead with 3:33 to go on one of his trademark rambling, tackle breaking, defender dragging touchdown runs. Many, including myself, felt this was way too much time for the Tar Heels to respond and and that held true when UNC marched to the Pitt 29-yard line. With a one point game, it was an important aspect that the Heels' longest field goal of the year is a 23-yarder. As hard as that is to believe, that's what the broadcast said. I looked up...they were right. That made it a pretty easy decision for UNC on 4th and 2 with 90 seconds remaining to go for it.

Williams ran the read option and faked the ball to tailback T.J. Logan and it was a good thing, because Todd Thomas was all over him four yards into the backfield. The fake was so good that for a moment, I thought they actually had held. Williams ended up faking it and taking off up field. Thomas had Logan and it appeared that senior linebacker Anthony Gonzalez had a shot at Williams before the first down marker. Gonzalez whiffed and Williams gained six yards. The Tar Heels scored a few plays later and that was all she wrote.

There are too many times when Pitt's opponents just do whatever it takes to bring in the win and the Panthers do not make those plays. There is plenty of blame to go around, so focusing in on one player for this disaster of a season would be the wrong thing to do. Last game was Blewitt and this week was the defense's turn.

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