I don’t know if Dave Doeren learned something from playing for a field goal against Clemson three years ago, or if he simply was enjoying watching the offensive line and Reggie Gallaspy have its way with rival UNC, but those seven straight runs—culminating in Gallaspy’s fifth rushing TD—to win in overtime were just what I needed to erase the frustration of all the ugly football that preceded it. Conventional wisdom dictates a chip shot field goal in that situation; a rivalry game dictates a testosterone-fueled beat down in the trenches. Good call, Dave. That’s three straight at sparsely-populated Kenan Memorial (or Carter-Finley North, as Ryan Finley calls it) for the Pack and nine of 12 in the series overall.
Since we pretty much own Chapel Hill, I thought we should commandeer the town’s beer for this week’s mixed six.
First beer—Carolina Brewery’s Flagship IPA: Flagship you say? I’ll just leave this here. The self-anointed flagship is 5-18 over the last two seasons with wins over just three teams (Old Dominion, Pitt, and FCS Western Carolina). The Heels haven’t won a bowl since 2013, and what few fans they have are so fed up with Larry Fedora that they’re hoping to coax Mack Brown’s cryogenically frozen corpse out of retirement to right the flagship. Embattled AD Bubba Cunningham was unusually candid when asked why the Heels didn’t add a 12th game after the UCF game was called off due to Hurricane Florence. Cunningham said there wasn’t enough fan interest to justify scheduling a makeup game and that everyone just wanted the season—one plagued by yet another NCAA scandal—to be over with.
Second beer—Top of the Hill Brewery’s Kenan Lager: UNC announced the attendance as 41,510. In reality, there were maybe half that many in attendance. I’m actually a little disappointed that Pack fans didn’t fill all those empty seats, but there were still several “Wolf!” “Pack!” chants echoing through the expanses of Kenan, which was much more red than blue. Carter-Finley North really is a better name for the place, as the Kenan name evokes an evil chapter of NC history. But enough about those losers.
Third beer—Top of the Hill Brewery’s Ram’s Head IPA: If we own their stadium, we might as well take the mascot too. Gallaspy rammed it up the Heels to the tune of a career-high 129 yards. The senior tied T.A. McLendon and Stan Fritts’ school record of five rushing touchdowns in a game. Gallaspy is up to a respectable 4.2 yards per carry on the season and has found the endzone 16 times on the ground (and once more through the air). McLendon’s 18 rushing scores in 2002 is the only more prolific Pack season in terms of TDs on the ground, and Gallaspy has two games left. With 208 more yards, he would give State three different 1,000-yard rushers in three seasons.
I think Finley put it best: “We absolutely got after them in the run game down the stretch. That’s our team being grittier than their team. I think they got tired and we didn’t. We showed some grit, we showed some toughness, and we dominated.”
Fourth beer—Carolina Brewery’s Sky Blue golden ale: While there were plenty of patches of aluminum in Carter-Finley North, there was no blue sky to be had on a rainy, 40-degree day. That hampered Finley in the early going, but he got it together with the help of favorite target Jakobi Meyers in the second half. Meyers’ acrobatic, twisting, one-handed sideline grab was part of a second half that saw him haul in five balls for 86 yards. He finished with seven catches for a game-high 111 yards. It was his fourth 100-yard game of the season and brought him to within 135 yards of joining Kelvin Harmon in the 1,000-yard club. Meyers now leads the team in receptions with 76, one more than Harmon, even though he missed a game with injury.
Fifth beer—Top of the Hill Brewery’s Semester Abroad session ale: The red zone has felt like a foreign land in State’s last two games. After being among the nation’s worst at converting opportunities inside the 20 into touchdowns, the Pack have found pay dirt in 10 of their 11 trips inside the red zone over the last two games. I don’t know if the improved red zone play is because Eli Drinkwitz has made some adjustments, or if it’s the subpar defenses from Louisville and UNC, but I do know that seven points is better than three points. No offense, Chris Dunn. Love watching your extra points.
Sixth beer—Top of the Hill Brewery’s Berried Alive: Speaking of special teams, who knows how the game turns out if Dunn doesn’t make the XP when he slipped down as he was kicking it. Every point matters in an OT game. And special thanks to UNC punter Hunter Lent, whose dropped snap got him “berried” alive by C.J. Riley and resulted in State’s first score. Pack kickoff coverage held UNC to just 16.8 yards per return, and, while you never want to see A.J. Cole on the field for anything other than holding extra points, he did bury five of his eight punts inside the 20. But seriously, Dave, do not punt from inside the 40. Ever. But bad decisions to punt aside, the glaring weakness that was once State’s special teams seems more and more to be a thing of the past. (In case you’re wondering, Berried Alive is a porter with strawberries and dark chocolate. Thanks for ruining beer, Chapel Hill.)
Parting shot—TOPO Carolina Straight Wheat Whiskey: Pour some out for Bobby Petrino, Larry Fedora, and Scottie Montgomery. Petrino is gone. Word on the street is that Carolina will swallow the 12+ million it will take to buy out Fedora. And Montgomery, with his paltry $1.2 million buyout, will likely be coaching his last game Saturday when the Pirates of Eastern Carolina invade Carter-Finley South. Who negotiated that contract? Pirate Wolf probably has that 1.2 mil in his couch cushions. If State can close the season 3-0 against the slate of dead and dying coaches, it can get to 10 wins by taking its third straight bowl game under Doeren. It would be just the program’s second 10+ win season. Let’s do that.
And drink responsibly, my amigos!