In the first night game at Kenan Memorial Stadium since 2015, the North Carolina football team (1-4, 1-2 ACC) lost to ACC Coastal rival Virginia Tech, 22-19, on a touchdown drive in the final minute.
Hokies quarterback Ryan Willis engineered a masterful 18-play, 98-yard touchdown drive, which he capped off with a 1-yard touchdown pass followed by a 2-point conversion.
Madness ensued in the fourth quarter. UNC, holding onto a 19-14 lead, converted a third-and-15 when quarterback Nathan Elliott hit tight end Carl Tucker for an 80-yard gain. Virginia Tech (4-2, 3-0 ACC) forced a Michael Carter fumble right on the goal line, though, and gave itself a chance to win.
On Virginia Tech’s final drive, Willis converted four third downs and one fourth down toss. He had a 29-yard completion to get out of his own end zone. On a third-and-14, Willis threw a 19-yard dot, up the left sideline, for a huge conversion. He had a 12-yard run on fourth-and-9, and a 7-yard run down to the UNC 1-yard line on third-and-two.
The Hokies converted that drive for a touchdown and 2-point conversion, bringing the game to its final score, 22-19.
With true first-year Cade Fortin under center for his first career start, the Tar Heels began the game poorly. An Antonio Williams fumble on UNC’s first offensive play gave Virginia Tech excellent field position. The Hokies promptly scored on a 33-yard read option keeper from Willis.
On the Tar Heels’ next possession, running back Michael Carter ripped off a 49-yard gain. But a bobbled snap near the goal line backed up UNC, and the team had to settle for a Freeman Jones field goal.
For the remainder of the first half, North Carolina did an excellent job containing the Virginia Tech offense. After a 4-play, 45-yard opening drive, the Hokies gained just 73 more first-half yards on 30 plays (2.43 yards per play).