Luck? Skill? Triple-doink interception sets up big swing in North Carolina’s favor at Holiday Bowl
After a two-year hiatus, the Holiday Bowl is back. A game known for wild plays lived up to its billing in the first half on Wednesday.
No. 15 Oregon and North Carolina took the field with two of the game’s best quarterbacks in Bo Nix and Drake Maye. The Tar Heels caught a big break when a Nix mistake turned into a worst-case scenario for Oregon.
With 35 seconds left in the first half of a 14-14 game, Nix looked over the middle to tight end Terrance Ferguson deep in North Carolina territory. The pass was just a bit behind Ferguson. Unfortunately for the Ducks, it did not fall incomplete.
Instead, it bounced off the leg of UNC linebacker Cedric Gray, then off the toe of Carolina linebacker Power Echols. The ball then hung up in the air just long enough for Echols to secure one of the wildest interceptions you’ll ever see.
He returned the ball 40 yards to the Oregon 49-yard line.
Officials reviewed the play, presumably to determine if there was an illegal intentional kick. They deemed that it was not, and North Carolina took over possession near midfield. One play later, Maye made the Ducks pay.
The redshirt freshman threw a dart to a streaking Kobe Paysour over the middle of the field. The 6-1 receiver did the rest of the work, sprinting to the end zone to give UNC a 21-14 lead headed into the break.
The touchdown was Maye’s third of the half. It was made possible courtesy of one of the most ridiculous interceptions of the season.