The North Carolina football team (6-2, 6-2 ACC) completed a fourth quarter comeback to defeat Wake Forest (4-3, 3-3 ACC) 59-53 in an offensive showdown.
The Tar Heel offense did not get off to its typical fast start at home. They failed to convert on a short fourth down and gave the ball to Wake Forest in good field position. The Demon Deacons took advantage of it, scoring on their first drive.
UNC responded quickly, scoring on the first play and the next drive after a 75-yard catch and run from senior receiver Dazz Newsome. A field goal on the following drive would give the Tar Heels their first lead of the game.
But the lead wouldn't last long, as Wake Forest would go down the field in only three plays and connect on a 40-yard touchdown pass to junior Jaquarii Roberson to go back ahead 14-10.
Both teams exchanged blows in an already wild first half. Sam Howell threw a dart to junior receiver Dyami Brown, who made a nice juke and strolled into the end zone. After redshirt sophomore Sam Hartman found redshirt first-year Donavon Greene for another score, Howell threw a deep bomb to a wide open Newsome on the game’s fifth touchdown drive under two minutes.
Following another Wake Forest touchdown, the fast pace started to slow down after three consecutive punts. The Demon Deacons eventually added on to their lead with under two minutes left in the half after a rushing touchdown from Kenneth Walker III.
UNC would finally get back on the board with under five minutes left in the third quarter. Howell hit Brown in stride to cut the lead to 14, before throwing a pass to senior running back Michael Carter at the start of the fourth quarter to make it a one score game. Howell got his sixth touchdown pass off of a beautiful throw to senior tight end Garrett Walston, and a 21-point Wake Forest lead was erased.
Howell decided to take the next one in himself, running 20 yards for a touchdown to give his team the lead late in the game. A big sack by senior linebacker Chazz Surratt gave the ball right back to the offense in the red zone and junior running back Javonte Williams put the game away with one final touchdown.
Who stood out?
Newsome had one of his best games of the year, setting a new season-high in yards with 189 and a pair of touchdowns. He made several big plays to keep his team alive and fuel the comeback.
The star of the game, however, was Howell. He became the first UNC quarterback with over 500 passing yards, throwing for a program-record 550 yards. He also scored six touchdowns through the air, also a program record, and one on the ground.
When was it decided?
North Carolina was down by three touchdowns and appeared to have lost all momentum. The offense looked out of gas, and the defense couldn’t get a stop.
But a big touchdown to end the third led to a huge fourth quarter for the Tar Heels. They scored 28 points to shock the Demon Deacons in Chapel Hill.
Why does it matter?
UNC head coach Mack Brown was looking to avenge last year's loss to the Demon Deacons. The 2020 season has shown that going behind early does not bode well for North Carolina's chances of winning. Despite Wake Forest losing talented offensive weapons in Jamie Newman and Sage Surratt, North Carolina needed to learn from its past mistakes and get off to a strong start.
The offense was able to do just that and complete the fourth quarter comeback the Tar Heels were unable to finish in their last matchup against the same team.
When do they play next?
The Tar Heels have a bye week before they host No. 2 Notre Dame on Nov. 28 at 3:30 p.m. The game will air on ABC.
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