A timetable for his return will not be available until the team returns to Chapel Hill and performs an MRI to learn the full extent of the injury. A UNC official said an update on Pianalto's expected recovery time will be available Monday afternoon.
With No. 19 North Carolina trailing Connecticut 10-3 in the final minutes, quarterback T.J. Yates checked down from fullback Anthony Elzy in the flat and tight end Ed Barham on a corner route to find Pianalto just across the goal line for the game-tying score on 3rd-and-goal from the two-yard line.
The Springdale, Ark. junior appeared to jump up in celebration after the reception and his right leg gave way when he landed.
“Honestly, I really don’t even know what happened,” Pianalto said following the victory. “I can’t wait to see the footage. I scored and just starting jogging back and it just seemed to either give out and/or I stepped on somebody’s foot. I don’t know what happened.”
This injury could be a crucial blow for an offense that was missing four starters in East Hartford – offensive guard Jonathan Cooper, center Lowell Dyer, fullback Bobby Rome and wide receiver Dwight Jones.
“I love all of these kids and you just hate when they go through adversity and tough times,” head coach Butch Davis said. “… Zack’s got a really strong faith and his teammates love him. Whatever the situation is – if he can be back in a month or six weeks or three weeks or next year or whatever – he’ll be okay. He’ll handle it.”
Pianalto was sidelined for two games early last season with a right ankle sprain before suffering a fractured left fibula in UNC’s win over Georgia Tech and missing the final four games of the year.
“It’s as frustrating as it can be,” Pianalto said. “I guess you can’t put it into words. Obviously, I’m glad we got the win. That’s the most important thing – the fact that we fought back from 10-0 in the fourth quarter. That says a lot about this team… We can look past this injury and see the good things that happened.”
Pianalto had seven receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown on Saturday, providing a much-needed option for Yates in UNC’s two fourth-quarter scoring drives.
“It just so happened today that [offensive coordinator John] Shoop did a great job calling the routes and luckily they were there and T.J. got the ball to me and I was just able to make some things happen,” Pianalto said.