Heart…miles and miles of heart

Published 9:27 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Nothing could be finer than whupping Carowhiner.

To be completely honest, I didn’t think we stood much of a chance on Saturday against the mighty Tar Holes. They had all the momentum…riding a four-game win streak, which included wins over nationally ranked Virginia Tech and Miami. UNC had its sights set on a nice payday at season’s end as they surely would receive a bid to a prestigious bowl.

After all, they are ‘Carolina.

But what the ‘Holes and I failed to see was heart, miles and miles of heart beating inside the proud “Red-and-White” of NC State.

Heading into Saturday’s game in Raleigh, the ‘Pack was struck in reverse. State had lost six of its last seven outings, including a 38-10 thumping at Virginia Tech the previous weekend.

Our defensive secondary has more potholes than Obama’s proposal for healthcare reform. On Saturday, UNC quarterback T.J. Yates was enjoying a post-Thanksgiving feast on that porous ‘Pack secondary, tossing scoring passes of 35 and 70 yards in the second quarter to help the ‘Holes to a 24-14 halftime lead.

But NC State has heart…miles and miles of heart.

While Yates tended to showboat a bit by raising his hands (not to signal a TD, but outwards to say, “hey, look at me”) after those two scoring strikes, his counterpart, State’s Russell Wilson, was as cool as the other side of the pillow.

Despite a relentless pass rush by the Tar Holes, Wilson hung tough and tossed four TD passes, including a pair of second half strikes covering 56 and 38 yards, both to Owen Spencer. The latter gave the ‘Pack what proved to be the game-winner early in the fourth quarter.

State then turned it over to their beleaguered defense, who came up big in the closing minutes…first with Alan-Michael Cash’s blocked field goal with 4:30 left and Clem Johnson’s game-sealing interception with 23 ticks left on the clock.

I couldn’t help but go online as soon as time expired to see what the N&O had to say about the game. As expected, the article wasn’t about what NC State did right to win; rather it was a “break-out-the-crying-towels” story centered on all the bad breaks ‘Carolina experienced.

The blame was laid on untimely penalties, turnovers and missed scoring opportunities…..combined, according to the writer, they led to 24 points that the Tar Holes “left on the field.”

I was shocked that the sun shining in the eyes of the UNC players or that they stumbled and tripped on the electronic lines displayed on the field by the TV station airing the game were not listed among the excuses.

Typical “Carowhiner” reading material.

Heart, not hype, won this game. The ‘Pack rallied behind its absent offensive coordinator, Dana Bible, who was diagnosed earlier last week with a form of leukemia and was immediately hospitalized.

As a true fan of collegiate athletics, I would be remiss if I didn’t send my best wishes to the UNC football program as they represent our great state in a bowl. Good luck to the Tar Holes in the Acme Rent-A-Truck Astro Bluebonnet Oyster Bowl, to be played….oh, who cares when or where it’s scheduled; it ain’t the big post-season payday you were hoping for…all due a loss to my ‘Pack!

Cal Bryant is Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald and Gates County Index. He can be reached at cal.bryant@r-cnews.com or 252-332-7207. Responses from UNC football fans are welcomed, but not expected.