UNC football defense shuts down Cavaliers
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — North Carolina made a statement in beating Virginia 37-13 Thursday.
The Tar Heels, who lost 68-50 Saturday against Georgia Tech, performed consistently on both sides of the ball to respond to their own poor performance.
“I guess we answered the question whether these guys’ll bounce back or not,” coach Larry Fedora said. “It was a total team effort tonight and they deserved every bit of it.”
But the defense, which held Virginia to 350 yards and only one touchdown, scored six points of its own and made the resounding impact on the night.
“I think our defense played exceptionally tonight,” Fedora said. “They were hurt by what happened last week, and they’ve got a lot of pride.”
Fedora said the team did not do anything special to result in the 55-point turnaround defensively, but he knew that at this point in the season, “it wasn’t going to be physical … It was going to be mental.”
UNC scored on its second drive then held UVa. to a field goal in first quarter.
“We told ourselves we were going to dominate,” Sylvester Williams said. “Three points is obviously a lot better than seven, that was the goal.
“We wanted to win the third down percentage too.”
North Carolina’s defense held Virginia to two of 15 on third downs.
Virginia scored its only touchdown in the second quarter.
UNC’s offense did not respond with a scoring drive, though it tried, as Thomas Moore, who took the field for the first time this season after Casey Barth’s season was ended last week with an ankle injury, kicked a 40-yard field goal that went wide of the post.
But UNC’s defense made up for it’s offense’s empty drive when Tre Boston got his first pick-six of his career. The play gave UNC a 10-point lead.
“I was coached to pick it off, and I did,” Boston said. “I saw Pete Magnum to the left and he laid a nice little block and I tried to take it to the crib.
“The defense, we pride ourselves on doing things like that, so I think it definitely got the team pumped up going into the half.”
In opening drive of third quarter, UNC forced a punt but UVa. recovered a Giovani Bernard fumble on the return. But the Tar Heel defense persevered through the Cavaliers’ extra possession and only let up a field goal.
“When we went out there, coach said, ‘Hold ‘em to three points,’ and we did,” Williams said. “When a team gets in the red zone you want to hold them to three points, or zero if you can, but three points was the goal then.”
After a confident, effective defensive third quarter, UNC scored two more touchdowns and a field goal to add 17 points as the offense sealed the deal and Scott Stadium began to empty out.
“After that goal line stand to end the third quarter, the offense went 97 and scored, so that was probably the dagger right there,” Fedora said. “I’ve got give it to the defense, they did everything they needed to do.”
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