CHAPEL HILL — Eric Ebron has had a couple of his best games as a North Carolina tight end against Miami.
On Thursday night at Kenan Stadium, he had the most productive game by a tight end in Tar Heels history.
Unfortunately for UNC it still wasn’t enough for an upset, as the No. 10 Hurricanes picked up a 27-23 comeback win.
The junior from Greensboro – who was second-team All-ACC last season and preseason all-conference this year – caught eight passes for 199 yards and a touchdown, including a 32-yard catch with nine seconds left that put the ball on the Miami 43 on his team’s frantic but unsuccessful final drive.
“It didn’t come with a win, so maybe I’m not as proud of it as I should be,” Ebron said. “I was really proud of the way I played. But we’ve got to learn from this. I’m not going to stop. Our team’s not going to stop. We’re going to keep going with what we’ve got.”
Ebron had had another productive game last year against the Hurricanes, with seven catches for 85 yards in a 18-14 road win.
The previous single-game yardage record by a UNC tight end was 45 years old – Tony Blanchard’s 149-yard performance in a 48-31 road loss to Wake Forest in 1968.
“I know sometimes people are timid to tackle such a big body (6-foot-4, 245),” he said. “When I broke the tackle on my touchdown all I saw was grass, and I just used what I’ve got.”
Ebron’s six catches for 144 yards before the break produced the most yardage in a first half by any tight end in the country this season.
“He had 200 yards, basically – I don’t know what they did to slow him down (after halftime),” Tar Heels coach Larry Fedora said. “We didn’t get the ball to him as much. There were a couple of times where they covered him up pretty good and left the wideouts open. He made some catches that not many other people are going to make. He played his heart out tonight.”
He broke Blanchard’s record on a one-handed 23-yard catch of a Bryn Renner pass with 11 minutes, 18 seconds left in the third period. But he didn’t catch another ball until the one with nine seconds left.
“We knew at halftime they’d be looking for him since he had a huge first half for us,” Renner said. “They started doubling him, but other guys got open and had some success in the second half. He’s one of the best tight ends in the country if not the best. He’s critical to our success passing the ball.”
Ebron’s best play of the night came with 5:50 left in the first quarter, when he caught a Marquise Williams pass in traffic just short of midfield and took the play 71 yards to the end zone for the Tar Heels’ first touchdown.
“That was awesome, man,” Williams said. “That felt good because he’s my best friend. I want to continue to throw touchdowns to him. I never got a chance to play with him until now. That one felt so good. I couldn’t believe it.”