The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Saturday, April 13, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

Help us keep going. Donate Today.
The Daily Tar Heel

UNC first-year quarterback Drake Maye struggles, then responds in win at Miami

20221001_Thiessen_Football-9.jpg
UNC first-year quarterback Drake Maye (10) looks for a receiver during a home football game at Kenan Stadium against Virginia Tech on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2022. UNC won 41-10.

When redshirt first-year quarterback Drake Maye walked on the field of Hard Rock Stadium on Saturday, he did so with a clean, white jersey.

When Maye walked off the field after North Carolina football’s 27-24 win over Miami, the condition of Maye’s uniform resembled his play against the Hurricanes — stained.

“When things don’t go our way, we just have to keep fighting and I feel like that’s what we did,” sophomore running back Caleb Hood said. “It wasn’t pretty, but we still came out with the win.”

Although Maye has been outstanding in his six games as starter, he’s still an inexperienced quarterback who, until Saturday, hadn’t started a game in an opposing arena quite as big as Hard Rock.

Coming into Saturday, Maye had only thrown one interception in five games. Against Miami, he was intercepted twice.

With just 28 seconds before the end of the first half, Maye stepped up to throw, eyeing sophomore tight end Bryson Nesbit near midfield. On the ensuing pass, the ball landed in the hands of Miami linebacker Keontra Smith.

On UNC’s first possession of the second half, Maye was sacked on the very first play. Then, facing pressure on the second down, he heaved the ball up, hoping sophomore wide receiver J.J. Jones would catch it. However, Miami safety Kamren Kinchens read the throw and picked the ball off.

Nevertheless, at the end of the game, there was still some white on Maye’s jersey. Against Miami, he had his bad moments, but he also stepped up for the Tar Heels.

On the first possession of Saturday's matchup, Maye hit Jones in stride for a 74-yard touchdown to give North Carolina a 7-0 lead.

Then on the next UNC drive, facing fourth down at the Miami 46-yard line, Maye couldn’t find an open receiver and scrambled, running right up the middle for 33 yards to pick up the first down.

In the second quarter, Maye faced pressure again. Instead of taking the sack, he kept his head up and found junior wide receiver Josh Downs for a touchdown in what ESPN play-by-play announcer Dave Pasch called “Mahomes-esque.”

And while the Tar Heels didn’t score a touchdown in the second half, with the game on the line, Maye effectively managed the offense.

UNC got the ball with 12:31 remaining and proceeded to go on an 18-play drive that lasted over eight minutes, giving Miami very little time to mount a comeback.

“On the drive where we drove down for a field goal and killed a lot of clock, Drake did an amazing job of getting the ball to players and making first downs and keeping the clock running,” head coach Mack Brown said.

Despite being in his first season as a starter, Maye has produced record numbers during six games, throwing for over 1,903 yards with 21 touchdowns – seven for every interception he has thrown.

There's likely to be grass stains on Maye's jersey at the end of every game, but there will almost certainly be patches of white and blue as well.

“At the end of the day, it’s hard to be perfect,” Maye said. “This sport is tough, and I try to do my best out there on every play.”

@thenoahmonroe

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

To get the day's news and headlines in your inbox each morning, sign up for our email newsletters.