"Going back to my sophomore year, it was the same type of game, and we ended on the wrong side of it," Carter said. "It felt like it was all my fault. And so just to be able to one, get the team win, and two, kinda let that feeling go to bed — it's a good day."
It was fitting, given his history with the team, that it was Carter who sealed the game with a 62-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter, the longest play of the day.
Carter's performance was nearly matched by his backfield partner Javonte Williams. The junior running back also set a career high in rushing with 169 yards, to go along with 55 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
Anyone who has anything to do with the construction of the offense for North Carolina has spent the past two years stressing the need to establish the run game. It fits within North Carolina's Air Raid offense — the success of Carter and Williams means that playmakers like Dyami Brown — who had two 35+ yard touchdown receptions on Saturday — and Dazz Newsome often have more room to operate.
"When you give those two guys space, they can go to the house on any play," quarterback Sam Howell said about his two running backs. "When they're doing that, then the defense has to bring their safeties down, they have to press up a little more, and it opens stuff up down the field."
Sure, there were caveats. At two different moments, it looked like UNC had gained what appeared to be an insurmountable lead only for the Virginia Tech offense to rally each time and come within striking distance. But the transcendent performance from the two backs stole the spotlight away from the Hokies' own vaunted run game.
"(Virginia Tech) ran it really well, but we ran it better than they did," head coach Mack Brown said. "That was not anticipated coming into the game."
Khalil Herbert, whose mere presence has essentially guaranteed an elite rushing attack for Virginia Tech, may have had 138 yards and two touchdowns, but he was no match for the two-headed hydra that was Carter and Williams.
The win on Saturday was the first time in school history that two running backs both ran for at least 160 yards, and Carter and Williams spearheaded an offense that gained a total of 656 yards, the fifth most in school history.
"Salute to those other running backs that they had, (they're) great players," Carter said. "But at the same time, I feel like me and Javonte are the best running backs in the nation. And Imma stand on that every week."
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