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

Keeler: Ed McCaffrey must have angels on his side in Greeley. Because his first home win with UNC Bears felt Heaven-sent.
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GREELEY — Maybe the angels had Ed McCaffrey’s back. The parents of former UNC assistant coach Zach Hoffpauir, who’d 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 inductees.

Maybe it was karma. About a quarter of the UNC roster and coaching staff had been unavailable against Lamar the weekend before, a game the Bears went on to lose in overtime.

Mind you, Dylan McCaffrey has another theory for the way his dad’s first home victory as the football coach at UNC ended up:

Divine intervention.

“When I was on the ground and heard our crowd cheering, I saw that the ball kind of bounced off that defender,” the younger McCaffrey said of his game-winning touchdown pass in overtime, a tipped dart that clinched the Bears’ 17-10 victory.

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

Hey, somebody happened to be smiling on the McCaffreys. How else do you explain Dylan’s 25th completion of the day, on his 40th attempt?

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

While the younger McCaffrey hit the turf, the rock appeared to scrape off Thomas’ hands as he tried to clasp the ball and kept traveling behind him. Only instead of being picked, it found its way into the waiting mitts of another Bears wideout, Jaren Mitchell, who happened to be cutting from right to left almost directly behind Thomas.

“I was just in the right place at the right time,” Mitchell, who snared four balls on the afternoon for 40 yards, said with a grin. “I’ll put it like that.”

Mitchell somehow caught the thing in stride, turned, and crossed the plane before being tackled in the end zone.

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

For Dylan, meanwhile, getting knocked on your backside never felt so good. The younger McCaffrey had contemplated not playing against NAU because of lingering pain from injuries suffered over the first two weeks of the season. He’d left the second half of the Bears’ win at Houston Baptist back on Sept. 11 and didn’t play against Lamar.

“We kind of went into (Saturday’s) game questionable, to be honest with you,” Dylan told The Post. “I’m really happy we made it, though.”

So were the UNC lifers. Folks such as Tom Barbour, a ’69 UNC grad who was the Bears’ sports information director from 1977-83.

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