5 craziest things from outrageous UNC-Appalachian State game
Everyone in the state of North Carolina needs to take a deep breath and relax after the incredible scenes from Boone on Saturday.
It's only Sept. 3, but the contest between North Carolina and Appalachian State might already have a stranglehold on game of the season, with the back-and-forth affair producing a combined 124 points and endless late drama.
Here are five crazy things that happened during the Tar Heels' 63-61 road victory.
Both teams blew double-digit leads
From the early returns, it looked as though Appalachian State would cruise to victory against a porous North Carolina defense. The Mountaineers raced out to a 21-7 lead just after the start of the second quarter. The script looked eerily familiar to the Tar Heels, last year's 105th-ranked defense. With Gene Chizik joining as coordinator in the offseason, fans expected different.
However, that Mountaineers edge wouldn't last long. North Carolina ripped off three straight touchdowns, including one to end the first half, to take a 28-21 lead to the locker room. The Tar Heels continued that run in the second half, racing out to a 41-21 lead with just over a quarter to play.
That lead would evaporate in the final frame, though, with Appalachian State producing a 27-7 run to level the score at 49 with four minutes to play.
App State scored 40 points in the 4th quarter ... and lost!
Despite entering the fourth quarter with a 20-point lead and scoring an additional 22 points, North Carolina still somehow almost lost the contest. That's how absurd Appalachian State's offense was in the final 15 minutes. The Mountaineers hung 40 on the Tar Heels in that time frame, with the 62 combined points falling just one shy of the FBS record for most in a quarter. Chase Brice threw four touchdowns in the fourth quarter alone, but it wouldn't be enough to send the game to overtime because ...
App State missed two separate 2-point conversions
After pulling within one with 31 seconds to play, Appalachian State head coach Shawn Clark opted to go for the two-point conversion to take the lead. Unfortunately for the Mountaineers, Brice's pass would be just off the mark, and the game was seemingly lost. That looked even more of a guarantee when North Carolina shockingly returned the ensuing onside kick for an astonishing touchdown to stretch the lead to eight. However, there was more two-point heartbreak still to come for the home team.
The Mountaineers amazingly went 48 yards in two plays to score another touchdown and get within two, setting up another incredibly dramatic two-point attempt to force overtime. Brice opted to keep it himself, but fell a yard short of the end zone despite a valiant effort.
Final score for the record books
The game became the first in FBS history to finish 63-61, according to Matt Brown of The Athletic. Appalachian State's 61-point haul tied for sixth-most by a losing team since 1936, as noted by ESPN. The two schools' basketball teams actually met last season, with North Carolina emerging as 70-50 victors. The 120 combined points in that contest fall short of the 124 from this football game.
North Carolina scored on an onside kick return
With three touchdowns in the final 31 seconds between the teams, the fact North Carolina returned an onside kick for a score will likely get lost in the history books.
The wildest thing about the return touchdown was the fact it actually made it harder for the Tar Heels to win. Had Bryson Nesbit just fallen on the ball and not attempted to run it back, North Carolina could have just run out the clock for a one-point win. Instead, the Tar Heels' defense needed to stop a last-second two-point conversion attempt to secure the victory after Appalachian State immediately responded with a touchdown.
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