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The Daily Tar Heel

Football: Virginia takes ?rst win of the season against North Carolina

Coach Butch Davis’ first home loss of the season came to a Virginia team that entered Saturday without a win. DTH/Andrew Dye
Coach Butch Davis’ first home loss of the season came to a Virginia team that entered Saturday without a win. DTH/Andrew Dye

In the aftermath of another stagnant performance — this time a 16-3 loss to ACC bottom-feeder Virginia, North Carolina’s quarterback couldn’t help but admit it.

 

When asked, T.J. Yates acknowledged that he had heard the boos directed at his unit from the home crowd.

 

Yates then paused and lowered his head for a few seconds, signaling that he was done responding to the question.

 

But before another word was spoken, Yates added something under his breath, his head still down.

 

“We deserved it,” Yates said.

 

UNC (3-2, 0-2) couldn’t get anything going against a Virginia (1-3, 1-0) defense which had been allowing 31 points per game before Saturday.

 

The Tar Heels’ offense failed to sustain possession with poor third-down efficiency, and it produced fewer than 200 total yards for the second week in a row.

 

In 12 possessions, North Carolina had six three-and-outs, and 11 of those 12 drives took fewer than three minutes off of the game clock. UNC never found itself in the red zone, and only one drive consumed more than 20 yards.

 

“It’s very frustrating when they’re going three and out and we’re back on the field, or they’re turning the ball over and we’re back on the field,” defensive end Robert Quinn said. “It’s a team game, and I’m not trying to play the blame game, but the offense has got to help us some.”

 

Despite the Tar Heels’ struggles on offense, they remained in the game until the tail end of the fourth quarter, thanks to another solid performance from their defense.

 

UVa. was able to register just nine points on three field goals through three quarters, and the score margin was within seven points until running back Mikell Simpson found the end zone with 5:49 left in the fourth quarter. That touchdown came after an interception off of a Yates pass gave Virginia the ball on the UNC 42-yard line.

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Quinn anchored UNC’s defensive effort with a career-high three sacks, and the Cavaliers gained only 254 total yards.

 

“The defense did a great job. We’ve got to hold up our end of the bargain. We’ve got to put some points on the board,” Yates said. “They can’t shut everybody out. They did a good job, and we put them in a bad position, which led to that last score.”

 

Yates finished with two interceptions and 135 passing yards, but he was far from the only culprit responsible for UNC’s anemic offensive showing.

 

Running back Shaun Draughn rushed for only 25 yards, and as a whole, UNC gained 39 yards on 23 carries.

 

The significance of his team’s 1.7 yards per carry wasn’t lost on coach Butch Davis.

 

“We’ve got to find a running game, and we’ve got to be able to block people at the point of attack,” Davis said.

 

“We can’t have as much penetration at the point of attack and not allow the back to at least get started at the intended hole or the intended point of attack.”

 

Davis added later that there weren’t any “smoke and mirrors” or a “magic pill” that UNC could take to fix the mistakes of its last two games.

 

He said his young team just needs to learn from its mistakes and take advantage of the opportunities presented to it during the course of the game.

 

The Tar Heels didn’t take advantage of the chances Virginia gave them, particularly in the turnover battle.

 

Marvin Austin forced a fumble when UVa. was driving in UNC territory late in the first half, but North Carolina was unable to scoop it up. Safety Deunta Williams also had an interception bounce off his hands on a deep ball down the sidelines.

 

“Those could have conceivably negated some points,” Davis said. “It might not have turned into any points, but it certainly would have given us the opportunity to maybe win the game 10-6, 10-9.”

 

Whatever the cause of North Carolina’s two-game slide has been, it certainly has gotten the attention of the players.

 

A sound defeat to a winless team can do that.

 

“We definitely are playing with a different approach. We’ve got to go back to the basics and try to find something that works,” Williams said. “On both sides we’ve got to give better effort and do something, because what we’re doing right now isn’t working.”



 

Contact the Sports Editor at sports@unc.edu.