CHARLOTTESVILLE — The players ran into the visiting locker room at Scott Stadium full of spirit. It had been about as good of a first half as one could hope for.
North Carolina (1-6, 1-4 ACC) had weathered the storm, holding the Virginia Cavaliers to just 25 rushing yards in the second quarter after 100 yards on the ground in the opening 15 minutes. They had quieted a raucous crowd that was collectively foaming at the mouth — a crowd anticipating Virginia’s first ACC Coastal Division title. The Tar Heels had scored 14 points against one of the top defensive units in the conference and trailed just 17-14.
That’s why the North Carolina football team’s play in the second half was so perplexing for those on hand for the 31-21 loss on Saturday afternoon.
After stopping the Cavaliers (6-2, 4-1 ACC) on the final possession heading into intermission, UNC received the ball to start the second half. In the first half, the Tar Heels proved to be more than just a fly buzzing around the heads of Cavalier players. That energy that was still there, albeit in a less frantic manner.
“The guys were pretty much like they always were at halftime,” head coach Larry Fedora said. “They know it's a 60-minute battle. They know once we come in at half, they put that one behind them and know they have 30 more minutes to fight.”