Thursday, October 28, 2021

Keeler: Ed McCaffrey must have angels in Greeley. Because his first home win with the UNC Bears felt heaven-sent.

GREELEY – Maybe the angels had Ed McCaffrey’s back. The parents of former UNC assistant coach Zach Hoffpauir, who passed away in May 2020, were honored at Nottingham Field on Saturday before the Bears took on northern Arizona in their Big Sky opener.

Maybe it was Stardust. UFC Lightweight Title contender Justin Gaethje, a former Bears wrestler, was recognized at halftime along with his fellow Athletic Department Hall of Fame.

Maybe it was karma. Nearly a quarter of the UNC roster and coaching staff were unavailable the weekend before against Lamar, a game the Bears lost in overtime.

Mind you, Dylan McCaffrey has another theory for the way he won his father’s first home win as football coach at UNC:

divine intervention.

“When I was on the field and heard our crowd cheering, I saw the ball bounce off that defender,” the younger McCaffrey said of his game-winning touchdown pass in overtime, a tipped dart that struck 17-10 win to the Bears.

“(I) heard our crowd cheering and I thought, ‘Whoa, thank you, God.’ He was in the hands of God. And I thank the Lord. He was on the side of the bear (Saturday).”

Oho, Any Smiling at McCaffreys. What else do you explain about the 40th attempt to complete the 25th day of Dylan’s day?

On 2 and 10 in the extra period and his pockets falling on the 15-yard line, former Valor Christian quarterback, Dylan fired a laser at UNC wideout Dylan Thomas, cutting to the right from the left hashmark near 10.

While the younger McCaffrey hit the turf, Rock appeared to scrape Thomas’s hands as he tried to catch the ball and kept traveling behind him. Rather than just being selected, it found its way into the waiting mitts of another Bears wideout, Jaren Mitchell, who was cutting from right to left almost straight behind Thomas.

“I was in the right place at the right time,” Mitchell, who threw four balls 40 yards in the afternoon, said with a grin. “I’ll keep it that way.”

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Mitchell somehow swerved, swung and crossed the plane before settling in the end zone.

The former Broncos star, who went 2-2, 1-0 to Big Sky in his first season at UNC, said the elder McCaffrey, “that’s the type of (win) that our program absolutely needed.” “We needed to find a way to turn the corner. And find a way to win the close game. “

For Dylan, meanwhile, knocking on your back has never felt so good. The younger McCaffrey considered not playing against NAU due to the pain of injuries sustained in the first two weeks of the season. He skipped the second half of the Bears’ victory at Houston Baptist on September 11 and did not play against Lamar.

“We were suspicious of (Saturday’s) game, to be honest with you,” Dylan told The Post. “I’m really glad we made it.”

So were the UNC Lifers. People like Tom Barbour, a ’69 UNC grad who was the Bears’ sports information director from 1977-83.


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