The last time North Carolina played East Carolina, the final more resembled a basketball score than a football score.
Coach Larry Fedora and the Tar Heels lost 70-41 in Greenville on Sept. 20, 2014, in a game where the Pirates set a school record of 789 total yards, the most yards UNC had ever allowed in a game.
Four years later, however, Fedora says he has no memory of the game.
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“I don’t remember a thing about it,” he told local radio host David Glenn on his radio show Wednesday.
Later that day, when asked in an interview how he could have forgotten the game, Fedora said, “I remember what I want to remember and block out the things I want to block out.”
The loss, which came in Fedora’s third year of coaching the Tar Heels, was one of the most embarrassing defeats in recent school history. But while Fedora may have forgotten it, others haven’t.
UNC (0-1) plays at ECU (0-1) again on Saturday, and chatter about the 2014 loss — and the Tar Heels’ 55-31 loss to the Pirates in 2013 — started on social media and with the players earlier this week.
“You’re going to have a bad taste in your mouth any time you lose, especially when you lose like that,” UNC fifth-year senior defensive lineman Tyler Powell, who was on the 2014 team, said. “The biggest thing for me, is I want to get us back out there and get us rolling for this season. And there’s no better week than to start this week.”
ECU fifth-year senior offensive lineman, Garrett McGhin, who was a redshirt freshman in 2014, told media outlets earlier this week that he “hates” the Tar Heels.
“They always think they’re better than us,” McGhin said, according to ABC11. “Even when we beat them they were still talking crap. It seems like we can never get respect from anybody.”
The stakes for this game will be high. Both teams are desperate for their first win of the season, and both were far from impressive in their season openers this past weekend.
ECU, which has finished 3-9 in each of the last two seasons, was upset by N.C. A&T 28-23 at home on Sunday. The Pirates turned the ball over three times and struggled running the football. They ran for 68 yards and averaged 2.3 yards per carry.
UNC, which also finished 3-9 last season, lost to Cal 24-17 on the road. The Tar Heels had one first down in the first half, six three-and-outs and three turnovers.
A win for either team would give them a chance to forget what happened in the first week and move on.
“It’s the next game,” senior linebacker Cole Holcomb said. “We’re going to treat every game the same.”
Fedora said ECU coach Scottie Montgomery will have his team ready to play on Saturday.
“They’ll play hard,” Fedora said. “He’s always got his team prepared ... And we all know they are going to make their most improvement in between the first and second game. So we’re going to have to go into Greenville and play a great game.”
As of Wednesday, UNC was a 16.5 point favorite.
North Carolina at East Carolina
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Where: Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium, Greenville