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UNC photo of the week: An embrace in Tallahassee

Mitch Trubisky (No. 10) and Nick Weiler embrace after Weiler’s 54-yard field goal gave UNC a victory at Florida State.
Mitch Trubisky (No. 10) and Nick Weiler embrace after Weiler’s 54-yard field goal gave UNC a victory at Florida State. rwillett@newsobserver.com

For photographers, covering what happens during a game is only part of the job. Another part, a big part, is covering what happens between plays or after them, and what happens after a game is over.

And so it was last weekend at Florida State. North Carolina won with Nick Weiler's 54-yard field goal as time expired. And then: chaos. Weiler sprinted down the field doing the tomahawk chop. His teammates mobbed him.

At one point, Robert Willett, NandO photographer extraordinaire, was run over during the celebration. Which was funny, in a way, because Robert and I had just been talking earlier during that trip to Tallahassee about whether he'd ever been run over while covering something.

He said he hadn't. That changed on Saturday. Nonetheless, he recovered and manuevered his way into position for the memorable shot, above, of Weiler and Mitch Trubisky embracing in a moment of jubilation. It's the UNC photo of the week.

Robert joined me for a quick discussion of it.

Andrew Carter: I know you can't predict the future but it looked like you did here, being in perfect position for this jubilant shot of Mitch Trubisky and Nick Weiler after UNC's victory at Florida State. How'd do you go about getting this shot?

Robert Willett: Amid the chaos of the post-kick celebration, I positioned myself in front of the a group of players that had put Weiler on their shoulders and was trying to compose an image when he came of the their shoulders and into the arms of Trubisky. Nice to get the two guys that make the victory happen together and happy in the same composition.

AC: It came down to the final seconds on Saturday, a do or die field goal whose outcome would have created two opposite scenes: a rowdy celebration for UNC, or despair. What was your strategy in covering that moment? How did you decide to be where you wanted to be?

RW: I decided to stay in the end zone the Tar Heels were driving to instead of moving to where I could see Weiler kick the ball, I was near the UNC fan section and its locker room plus I had a good view of the UNC bench. If the kick was no good I was in position to capture the coaches and players’ reaction. If the kick was good I felt like they would come to their fans seated behind me.

AC: Rumor has it that you were ran over during UNC's celebration -- perhaps by none other than the ecstatic Weiler himself. True story? Had you ever been run over before after a game? How'd it happen and what was your reaction?

RW: I was hit, or brushed by Weiler or one of the players following him as he did his tomahawk chop around the perimeter of the field following the kick. I had a good view of the tomahawk chop as he rounded the far corner field and head straight toward me, and I tied to get out of the way, but I was hit and fell straight back with a soft landing and no broken equipment. I did take the camera down from my eye as to prevent being injured by contact to my face. I immediately jumped back up and kept shooting as they team piled on Weiler just a few feet from me.

Pretty cool moment. Pretty great photograph. Be sure to check out Robert’s work after every game. Also be sure to follow him on Instagram.

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