North Carolina also impressed through the air.
UNC receiver Dazz Newsome had a strong night, reaching 170 receiving yards with a touchdown. Dyami Brown also continued to dominate. He caught his ninth receiving touchdown this year, tying Marcus Wall (1994) for the fourth-most touchdown catches by a Tar Heel in a season.
2. Howell impresses again
Although he was sacked five times against the Panthers, quarterback Sam Howell posted another strong game in his first season in Chapel Hill.
Howell finished the night 27-43 with 322 yards, passing T.J. Yates for the most passing yards by a UNC first-year QB. Yates threw for 2,655 yards in 2007, while Howell is over 2,700.
Thursday also marked Howell’s fifth game with three or more passing touchdowns. He's totaled 29 touchdown passes this season, which is one shy of tying Mitch Trubisky’s single-season record.
3. UNC keeps it close against Coastal opponents
While the Tar Heels are out of the running for the ACC Coastal title, fans shouldn’t overlook the statement North Carolina has made this season in turning its program around.
Every UNC loss this season has been by a single possession and has come down to the final minutes of the game. The team lost to defending national champion Clemson by a single point earlier in the season.
In the last 15 seasons, North Carolina was 0-40 when trailing by 14+ points entering the fourth quarter. Tonight, the Tar Heels headed into the fourth quarter trailing by 14. But Howell answered the challenge with a pair of touchdowns to tie the game before the end of regulation.
Thursday night also game marked UNC’s fourth overtime game in its last 16 matchups, going back to Syracuse in 2018.
While there were plenty of mistakes that UNC will learn from and try to fix in the coming days, it’s important to note how head coach Mack Brown and his staff have turned the Tar Heels around after Larry Fedora’s departure at the end of last season.
Eventually, that improvement will have to turn into wins. To finish the season, the Tar Heels will need to win out against Mercer and N.C. State in order to be eligible for a bowl game.
@DTHSports | email@example.com