“It’s frustrating,” Dorn said. “We’ve got to find ways to get stops.”
Perkins totaled 490 yards, the third-most by any player against UNC all-time, and five total touchdowns, with 112 of his yards coming on the ground.
“You couldn’t stop him with the running game,” head coach Mack Brown said. “We didn’t stop the quarterback run against Virginia Tech. We didn’t stop the quarterback run against Wake Forest, so we had to stop the quarterback run tonight."
Heading into the Coastal division matchup, the teams expected the game to be defensively heavy, but the opposite happened. The 38-31 score marks just the second time these teams have scored more than 30 points against each other during their rivalry.
Coming into the game, UNC’s defense expected Perkins to pass more, since he was, in the words of linebacker Chazz Surratt, “a little banged up.” But UVA was able to make plays on the ground and in the air to keep drives alive.
“They extended some drives,” Surratt said. “That hurts as a defense, but we’re trying to think of the next play. We can’t worry about the last one. That’s what Coach Bateman taught us."
Part of the Cavaliers' success was due to some trickery on offense. At one point in the first quarter, a fake field goal play led to a conversion on fourth down and, later, the first touchdown of the night.
But the rest came from Perkins’ seamless throws and UVA’s offense keeping the Tar Heels on their toes.
“He makes good, quick throws,” senior defensive lineman Jason Strowbridge said. “They add up. Just threading a needle, in my opinion, that’s what breaks the defenses the most."
Another stop here or there could have meant a Tar Heel win, but a crucial mid-game stretch sank them. Still, North Carolina was only a possession away at the end of the game, a theme for UNC this season.
“Yeah, I got gray hairs,” junior running back Michael Carter said. “But it’s fine. I guess we like it this way. We like to fight so we get that every Saturday … We’re fighters.”
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