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ACC refs ruin UNC’s chance to upset Clemson on awful botched onside kick call

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Referees made a brutal call to prevent UNC from a possible game-tying drive.

Down 45-37 with 1:11 to go, North Carolina needed an onside kick for a chance to beat No. 1 Clemson in the ACC Championship game. And they got it! They got it! They had a chance to drive for the tie!

But the referees called the play offside, claiming one of the Tar Heels crossed the 35 yard line before the ball was kicked. Looking at replay, it is inconceivable how one of the referees made that ruling:

None of the Tar Heels are across the line with any part of their body. None of them are close. It's worse because, although on kickoffs, this is a cut-and-dry thing -- either you're across the line, or you're not -- and offside is not a reviewable foul. It's considered a judgment call by the on-field refs, and in this case, they got it wrong.

That error meant a re-kick, and from there, UNC's chances were pretty bad. Clemson had already seen their onside play, and well, it's really improbable to recover an onside kick once, let alone twice. The Tigers picked up a first down on their ensuing drive, and they're headed to the College Football Playoff.

We don't know if UNC would've won if they picked up the onside kick -- they needed to drive the field and score and score a two-point conversion and win in overtime -- but it's disappointing to see them robbed of the opportunity by the refs.