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Off the cuff: The biggest difference between this game and the Rutgers win was discipline. The Tar Heels were only a couple of penalties away from breaking the Carolina single-game penalty record that has stood for 61 years. Even at the first of the game, before the rash of penalties began, the Heels seemed almost too fired up with too much celebration and congratulations even on rather routine plays.

They have to play within themselves and in control. The silly penalty on Tate for hot-doggin' in the end zone was indicative of the problem. During Virginia Tech's first TD drive, the Heels helped them as linebacker Quan Sturdivant got a penalty for some extracurricular activity afer the Heels had stopped the drive. The penalty gave the Hokies a first and 10 at the Heels' 20. A couple of plays later, Virginia Tech was in the end zone.

The TV announcers Terry Gannon and David Norrie work well together and gave outstanding analysis and insights. They picked up on little nuances and, while they had to do the promos, kept focus on the game. Unfortunately, the broadcast itself was average at best as they were often late getting back to action. For instance, we never got to see an official explain a challenge because they came back just in time to see the play - once even the play had already started.

I could never sync up the radio with the TV so I listened to very little of the Tar Heel radio broadcast team. It's a shame because it doesn't seem like a Carolina game without the voice of the Tar Heels.

Carolina was moving the ball late in the game and Paulus had Draughn open for what would have been a short, but important gain. Instead, he threw wildly toward the end zone and Virginia Tech intercepted it at the 2-yard-line.

That seemed to take the wind out of the Heels' sails. The game was not over and Carolina had the Hokies backed up against their own end zone. But Virginia Tech reeled off consecutive gains of 13, 11, 11 and 16 yards on four plays. Terrible. Four plays, four first downs and the game was basically over.

The refs missed some calls that hurt the Heels. On the Elzy unnecessary roughness penalty play, a Tech player blocked Brooks Foster in the back and it wasn't called. With a little more than a minute left, Nicks stripped the ball from a Tech player but the officials said he was down first. He wasn't.

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Hokies 20, Heels 17
Carolina blows it with penalties, turnovers

Well, perhaps the Tar Heels are the Not-Ready-For-Primetime Players rather than Atlantic Coast Conference contenders.

North Carolina gave up 17 straight points after its quarterback, T.J. Yates, went down with an ankle injury midway through the third quarter, and fell to perennial ACC powerhouse Virginia Tech 20-17 at home. (9/20)

Carolina seemed to have the game in hand most of the way as the Heels' quick and hard-hitting defense kept the Hokies and athletic quarterback Tyrod Taylor at bay. Meanwhile the offense did enough to give the Heels a 10-3 halftime lead and a 17-3 lead in the second half.

Unfortunately for the Heels, they were settling for field goal attempts (missing one and converting one) rather than touchdowns in the first half. In addition, they were giving up easy points. Virginia Tech tied the score at 3-3 on a field goal following a fumble by Carolina's Shaun Draughn at the Heels own 8-yard-line.

A scrambling Yates completed a 30-yard pass to Brandon Tate to keep a drive going with 2:12 left in the first half. Yates connected with Tate again in the middle of field and he dashed to the end zone to give the Heels a 10-3 lead. Jay Wooten had to convert a 35-yard extra point because Tate was called for a celebration penalty for unnecessarily diving into the end zone.

In the third quarter, Yates kept the Heels fighting back from penalty after penalty, including two key penalties on lineman Byron Bishop. On fourth and six from the Hokies' 35, Yates found Hakeem Nicks for a first down to keep the drive alive. However, a couple of plays later, Yates went down with an ankle injury.

On Mike Paulus' first play at quarterback, he handed off to Greg Little who busted up the middle untouched for a 50-yard TD run. That was the best Paulus looked as he could not move the Heels the rest of the game.

Meanwhile, the Tar Heels were racking up 121 yards in penalties and turning the ball over - once on a Little fumble that led to the tying score at 17-17 and once on a wild Paulus interception at the Virginia Tech 2-yard-line which thwarted Carolina's chance to win.

The defense seemed to tire as Virginia Tech's offense finally got into rhythm. With the score tied at 17, a hit out of bounds by UNC's Anthony Elzy following a punt put Virginia Tech immediately in field goal range. While the Hokies lost a yard on the drive, Virginia Tech's Dustin Keyes drilled a 46-yard field goal that proved to be the difference.

Yates' ankle injury is expected to keep him out six weeks and certainly slowed the Carolina momentum in this game. Yates (11 of 18 for 181 yards) and Tate (186 all-purpose yards) were the offensive stars for the Heels while linebacker Mark Paschal (a sack, an interception and 12 tackles) was the defensive leader.

The Heels fall to 2-1 and 0-1 in the conference while Virginia Tech moves to 3-1 and 2-0 in the ACC. Carolina travels to Miami Sept. 27.

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© 2008 CB3media Cary, NC

Heel Prints reviewed each UNC game
As a student sports editor years ago, prior to the season, Clifton Barnes predicted a national championship for the Tar Heels and indeed they won. In fact he wrote his lede paragraph for the national championship game almost a year early. He regrets that he didn't keep a journal after each game. While he didn't predict a championship this season, he did have those same feelings. He kept a journal after each game of the 2007-2008 season and you can reach them here. He recently completed writing about UNC's baseball season and will write an analysis after each UNC football game.