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Yellow Jackets' defense can't slow Tar Heels, give up final-minute TD in 48-43 road loss


CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina — Georgia Tech's offense racked up big numbers. The defense never could come up with enough stops.

The Yellow Jackets never managed to get much pressure on North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams nor could they stop the Tar Heels from moving the ball on the ground. That included giving up the go-ahead touchdown with 11 seconds left of Saturday night's 48-43 road loss.

UNC finished with 579 total yards, converted 10 of 15 third-down chances and converted both fourth-down tries — including a 36-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-and-6 early in the fourth quarter.

"It was execution," linebacker Demond Smith said. "We had the game plan to stop everything that they run. We've just got to go out there and execute it, and we just didn't bring it today."

The Yellow Jackets' run-focused attack had masked some of the troubles this year by controlling the clock and keeping the defense off the field. While the Tar Heels were giving up more yards and points than any team in the league, the Yellow Jackets were giving up a league-worst 6.3 yards per play this year.

Asked if he was frustrated with his defense, coach Paul Johnson said, "I don't know. It's been about like that all year, really."

For North Carolina, T.J. Logan scored the winning touchdown from 2 yards out to help North Carolina snap a four-game losing streak.

Logan's late score capped a 75-yard scoring drive in the final 3 minutes of a wild game, which saw the Tar Heels (3-4, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) blow an 11-point fourth-quarter lead only to come up with one more scoring drive.

PHOTO: North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams looks to pass the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia Tech in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)
North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams looks to pass the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game against Georgia Tech in Chapel Hill, N.C., Saturday, Oct. 18, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Williams came up with several key throws during that late drive to cap a brilliant individual performance. The junior threw for 390 yards and four touchdowns to go with a school-record 38 completions, and also ran for 73 yards and a score.

Logan finished with a season-high 75 yards rushing for the Tar Heels, who snapped a five-game losing streak in the series and beat Georgia Tech (5-2, 2-2) for the first time since 2008.

On a night when both offenses moved the ball at will, the Yellow Jackets appeared to have snatched this one away from the Tar Heels in stunning fashion.

Trailing 42-31, Georgia Tech made it a one-possession game on Zach Laskey's 14-yard scoring run at the 8-minute mark. Then, after the Yellow Jackets got a rare defensive stop, DeAndre Smelter took a reverse around the left side and raced 75 yards to the end zone for a 43-42 lead with 3:07 left.

Ultimately, that proved to be too much time for Williams, Logan and an offense that rolled to 579 total yards.

Williams completed six passes on the go-ahead drive, including a 15-yarder to Romar Morris while drawing a roughing-the-passer penalty that put the ball at the Georgia Tech 4 with 20 seconds left. Then, after a pass interference call brought the ball closer to the goal line, Logan ran through the left side for the winning score.

Georgia Tech had one final possession deep in its own end, but Justin Thomas' desperation deep heave fell incomplete and receiver Michael Summers dropped Thomas' short pass to kill the final seconds.

Georgia Tech finished with 611 total yards, with Thomas throwing for 235 yards and three touchdowns. Smelter had a 46-yard scoring catch, and Laskey ran for two scores while playing through a shoulder injury.

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