Armstrong: Heels come close to toppling Clemson

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (WTVD) -- Mack Brown was quick to the point following Carolina's heartbreaking 21-20 loss to Clemson.

"We're not into moral victories. Doesn't happen, can't happen. But - if a team is a reflection of its coach... in my 31 years of coaching I've never been prouder of their effort."

Brown had been quick to remind his team all week that Clemson at this stage is a decidedly better team, but that "the better team" doesn't always win. It factored into his decision to go for 2 at the end rather than kick an extra point to tie and play for overtime.

"The longer the game goes, the more chance the better team will win."

Brown asked his offensive coordinator Phil Longo if he had a play he was confident would get the necessary two yards and Longo said he did. The decision was made. That Sam Howell was jammed up short of the goal line is immaterial, it was the right call.

Carolina came into the game believing after a great week of practice, but that belief was certainly cemented when Howell hit Dyami Brown for a 40-yard score on the Heels first possession.

From there, it was a dogfight. Chazz Surratt played his best game as a Tar Heel, picking up 7 tackles including a sack of Trevor Lawrence. He was a disruptor on several other plays as well.

Moral victories are useless to be sure, but it's impossible not to take positives from this performance if you're Carolina. As Sam Howell and linebacker Jeremiah Gemmel said afterward "We just went toe to toe with the best team in the land" and "we took them to the wire... this shows what we're capable of."

The trick now - replicating that effort against lesser opposition. Georgia Tech for example.
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