The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday December 7th

Rapid reactions: UNC up 24-10 over VT at halftime thanks to Green, Downs and defense

UNC junior wide receiver Josh Downs (11) drives down the field during a home football game at Kenan Stadium against Virginia Tech on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. UNC won 41-10.
Buy Photos UNC junior wide receiver Josh Downs (11) drives down the field during a home football game at Kenan Stadium against Virginia Tech on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. UNC won 41-10.

Early in the third quarter, UNC is up 24-10 on Virginia Tech at the Tar Heels' Kenan Stadium ACC opener. 

The double digit lead is thanks to a three-yard reception from graduate tight end Kamari Morales, one-yard rush from redshirt first-year quarterback Drake Maye, 16-yard reception from senior wide receiver Antoine Green and a 44-yard field goal from sophomore place-kicker Noah Burnette.

Here are the rapid reactions from the first half:

UNC defense steps up

On Virginia Tech's third drive of the game, a lazy pass from Hokies redshirt junior quarterback Grant Wells led to UNC junior Cedric Gray's fourth career interception.

On the very next play, at Virginia Tech's 16-yard line, Maye found senior wide receiver Antoine Green in the end zone. This 16-yard pass marked Maye's second passing TD of the day, but most importantly, was facilitated by UNC's defense stepping up in the first half.

In Virginia Tech's first four drives, half resulted in a punt. At the 2nd and 10 on the VT 44, a huge tackle for graduate defensive lineman Raymond Vohasek brought the Hokies to a 3rd and 10. Due to the Tar Heels' continued defensive pressure, VT followed this up with an incomplete pass to bring about the 4th down.

Despite the eventual 2-yard touchdown run by Wells to close out the first half, the Tar Heels limited the Hokies to 181 total yards and 72 net rushing yards in the first half — a drastic improvement from last week.

Green and Downs stand out so far

Green and Downs lead the offensive unit so far in receiving yards. Green has totaled 59 yards and one touchdown while Downs has 48 yards. Both receivers have been efficient at that, as Green has an 80 percent completion rate on five targets while Downs is 4-4.

While UNC has struggled with the run game so far — only rushing for 89 yards — both of these wide receivers have proven to be reliable targets to move the ball down the field quickly. Green averaged 14.8 yards per reception in the first half, while Downs averaged 16.

In the second half, especially considering the intermittent rain, the Tar Heels need to look to further establish their run game. This is something that head coach Mack Brown emphasized in this week's press conference, saying "We've got to run the ball better offensively to try to stay on the field more."

@shelbymswanson 

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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