Tar Heels motivated by 5-year losing streak against Wolfpack

CorrespondentOctober 26, 2012 

— What Kevin Reddick remembers most about N.C. State’s 29-25 victory over North Carolina in 2010 is that he wasn’t around to see the Wolfpack rally.

The Tar Heels’ senior linebacker was ejected in the third quarter after an altercation with Wolfpack receiver Jarvis Williams in the end zone following Russell Wilson’s improbable touchdown pass to Owen Spencer. N.C. State then took the lead on a T.J. Graham punt return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Reddick had to watch it all from the Tar Heels’ locker room.

Sylvester Williams transferred to UNC in 2011, so he has only experienced one of the Tar Heels’ five consecutive losses to the Wolfpack.

That game – a 13-0 N.C. State win last season – was enough to make an impression.

“Last year, one of my best friends, Tydreke Powell, he cried because he was like, ‘I wanted to beat State before I left,’” Williams said.

UNC’s current crop of seniors has a final chance to avoid a similar fate Saturday when the Tar Heels (5-3, 2-2) host the Wolfpack (5-2, 2-1) at Kenan Stadium (WRAL, 12:30 p.m.).

While it has twice won five consecutive games in the 118-year-old series, N.C. State has never stretched it to six against UNC.

“We’ve been losing to them the last five years in a row – we’re kind of tired of hearing all that,” UNC linebacker Tommy Heffernan said. “They have all the rights to say it, but come Saturday, I think we’re going to get after it. It’s definitely going to be a big win for us if we get it.”

Much like Williams, last year’s loss at Carter-Finley Stadium was Heffernan’s first experience playing in the rivalry game.

What he remembers most is how N.C. State knocked UNC back as soon as the game started and never really relented. With the exception of a 46-yard drive early in the third quarter that ended with the Wolfpack’s David Amerson intercepting Bryn Renner near the goal line, the Tar Heels did not have an offensive possession that went for longer than 12 yards until the fourth quarter.

“They kind of jumped the gun on us early and we just couldn’t do anything,” Heffernan said. “It was just a frustrating game the entire time. There wasn’t really much momentum swings – they took off with it and held on to it the whole game.”

To cope with their lackluster performance, some of UNC’s players said they tried to sleep off their frustration.

“All I remember from last year was us not being able to have much success on offense and us only having one sack on Glennon,” Williams said. “The biggest thing is that after that game, I literally went to sleep for the next 30 minutes.”

In case memories are hazy, the UNC coaching staff put pictures and assorted N.C. State paraphernalia in the Tar Heels’ locker room earlier this week .

While such tactics might reinforce how badly UNC wants to win Saturday, those feelings have been part of the team’s collective psyche for the better part of a year.

“We’ve been talking about it since summer time,” Heffernan said. “So much frustration has built up because it doesn’t go back and forth – at least not in the last five years. This is something that we want really bad.

“We knew that coming into the season that the State game we’ve got to come out the fastest and the hardest we ever have all season.”

Reddick doesn’t expect it to be easy.

“Last time they played here, I got kicked out of that game,” he said. “Last year when we played there, it was a fight and we came out on the short end. But it’s always a fight.”

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