Topic: On This Date: 1983 Clemson- 16 (10)North Carolina- 3
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On This Date: 1983 Clemson- 16 (10)North Carolina- 3

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Posted: Nov 5, 2020, 9:31 AM

Chapel Hill, NC

Party Spoiled: Clemson Dominates UNC In Front Of Record Kenan Crowd

By John Feinstein
November 5, 1983

As the Clemson football team charged gleefully toward its locker room this afternoon, its 16-3 dismantling of North Carolina complete, offensive guard Wes Mann had one parting shot for the Tar Heels.

"Hey, Carolina, have fun at the Bluebonnet Bowl," Mann yelled after Bob Paulling's three field goals and Mike Eppley's third-quarter touchdown pass gave the Clemson defense more than enough cushion.

Bluebonnet, Peach, Citrus, take your pick of the lesser bowls and North Carolina will be in one of them. Eight days ago, the Heels were 7-0, ranked third in the nation and talking about the Orange Bowl. Even after their loss last week to Maryland, they were still in the top 10 and thinking Fiesta Bowl.

But after the defeat today against the Tigers (7-1-1), who have now beaten 18 straight ACC opponents over the last three seasons, Carolina will have to settle for yet another visit to a postseason game with little interest outside the two schools involved. And no one enjoyed knowing that more than the Tigers, ineligible for the ACC championship and whose games do not count in conference standings because of the probation.

"This was supposed to be Carolina's big year, their year to go to a big bowl," said defensive end Ray Brown. "But now they aren't doing any of that stuff, and we love it. I hope they don't go to any bowl at all."

Clemson has now beaten Carolina the past three seasons on the strength of its defense, which has held the always statistically impressive Tar Heels to 24 points during those games. Today, UNC's offense, ranked fifth nationally, gained 333 yards. But each time it threatened to make this a game, Carolina stalled. Three times it fumbled, once quarterback Scott Stankavage was intercepted and twice inside the 20 passes were knocked down by Clemson linemen.

"We can talk all we want about offensive execution and not getting breaks," said offensive tackle Joe Conwell. "But in the end, you have to give credit to their defense. They have tradition and they have confidence and they make the big plays."

The only big offensive play of the game was a six-yard pass from Eppley to K.D. Dunn with 6:01 left in the third quarter, putting Clemson ahead, 13-0. The plays which led to the touchdown summed the game up nicely.

On its opening series of the third quarter, Carolina, trailing, 6-0, because of field goals of 27 and 29 yards by Paulling in the second quarter, moved the ball smartly from its 18 to a first down at midfield. But on third and seven, Stankavage barely had time to take his drop before he was crushed by Terence Mack and James Robinson. He fumbled and Robinson, who caused another fumble and blocked pass, recovered at the UNC 44.

"We were just coming at him," Robinson said. "They don't throw that often but usually when they do, you know it's coming.

"You know, every year they roll up impressive statistics early in the season but then . . . ."

He didn't have to say anything more. From the 44, Clemson moved to the 20. There, on third and 11, Eppley tossed a screen pass to fullback Kevin Mack. Guard James Farr took out safety Walter Black to give Mack the room he needed to make it to the six.

From there, Eppley hit Dunn for the touchdown after recognizing that Carolina had rolled from a man-to-man to a zone defense. "Dunn's the primary receiver on the play, but it's supposed to be quick," Eppley said.

"When I dropped, I saw they were in zone, so I moved left to get more time."

Eppley's quick scramble to the left gave Dunn time to slide to the back of the end zone. There, Eppley threaded the ball between three defenders for the game's only touchdown.

"I don't know if we could have played better than we did," said Clemson Coach Danny Ford, who reminded his players that they could knock UNC out of a major bowl just before sending them on the field. "We had three long drives, one for the touchdown. And our defense did what it had to do when they threatened."

This was the Tigers' bowl game. "If we beat Maryland next week, we'll know in our hearts we're the champions no matter what it says on paper," safety Tim Childers said. "But this one, beating Carolina here, was sweet."

There is bad blood between these programs, especially the coaches, who have traded shots for three years. At game's end, Ford and Crum set a world's record for quickest handshake, practically sprinting by one another at midfield.

Ford had only one comment on Crum afterward: "I'm tired of all that stuff," he said.

Crum is undoubtedly far more troubled by yet another season of dreams crushed in November gloom. Today was a very un-Chapel Hill like day, raw and blustery for the record crowd of 53,689 in Kenan Stadium throughout. And when it was over, the Tar Heels had to face what have become annual queries about folding in big games.

"Given what's happened the last two years against Maryland and Clemson, it's a legitimate question," Conwell said. "People have a right to raise the issue." He shrugged his huge shoulders. "But when they raise the question, I'm afraid we just don't have any answers."

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Re: On This Date: 1983 Clemson- 16 (10)North Carolina- 3

Posted: Nov 5, 2020, 10:02 AM

I was a student at UNC at the time and at the game. Part of the heartache of being a UNC football fan.


Re: On This Date: 1983 Clemson- 16 (10)North Carolina- 3

Posted: Nov 5, 2020, 10:50 AM

I was at that game and I remember two things that had nothing to do with the actual football game.
First thing was they recognized Michael Jordan and Sam Perkins before the game and then at half time or shortly after the third quarter had started, at least half of the Tarhole faithful starting leaving the stadium. I stopped one guy and ask him where was everyone going, that this was a Top 15 matchup of college football powers and also a close game at the time.

He said they were headed to the Dean Dome to get in line for the Blue-White basketball scrimmage that was taking place after the football game.

I knew then that UNC would always struggle to be relevant in football because most of their fans only really care about basketball!!


Re: On This Date: 1983 Clemson- 16 (10)North Carolina- 3

Posted: Nov 5, 2020, 1:07 PM

I remember it well my mom and I went together. We were living in Eden NC so not a long drive. I was 15 and enjoyed watching it. I ended up marrying a UNCheat girl. And she tells me she actually attended class. But I wonder some times.


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