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UNC football team drops second straight game to losing team in 46-42 defeat against Georgia Tech

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UNC graduate student running back British Brooks (24) runs the ball during the football game against Georgia Tech at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023.

ATLANTA — The No. 17 North Carolina football team (6-2, 3-2 ACC) fell to Georgia Tech (4-4, 3-2 ACC), 46-42, at Bobby Dodd Stadium on Saturday night. It was UNC's first loss in 46 games under head coach Mack Brown when scoring over 40 points.

"Tonight, if you score 42 points, you should win the game," Brown said.

The Tar Heels forced the Yellow Jackets to punt on their opening drive. Nine plays and 75 yards later, quarterback Drake Maye found junior tight end Bryson Nesbit for a 14-yard touchdown.

After a 31-27 meltdown to Virginia last week — where sophomore running back Omarion Hampton got just five carries in the second half — the ground game defined UNC’s offense tonight, with 267 total rushing yards.

Hampton led the way with 153 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns, with graduate running back British Brooks and Maye each recording a rushing touchdown. Maye went 17-25 on 310 passing yards and two passing touchdowns.

"[We're] just devastated," Maye said. "We work so hard, we love each other, playing each other; it's all we got. Still got a lot to play for, you never know what can happen."

UNC forced a turnover on downs, and Hampton capped off a 46-yard drive with a 17-yard rushing touchdown to put UNC up 14-0 in the first quarter. Hampton had 72 rushing yards in the first quarter alone.

Georgia Tech erupted for 24 points in the second quarter, opening up with quarterback Haynes King finding receiver Malik Ruther for a 42-yard catch. UNC answered with a 46-yard bomb to Nesbit, shortly followed by a 14-yard touchdown run from Brooks.

The Yellow Jackets trimmed the deficit to 21-14 when King fired a 35-yard bomb to tight end Brett Seither. After a UNC three-and-out, Georgia Tech tied it up with receiver Eric Singleton Jr.’s 43-yard catch, shortly followed by Rutherford’s 14-yard receiving touchdown.

The Tar Heels responded with a quick drive; Maye lofted a 32-yard pass to junior receiver Tez Walker, and Hampton punched in his second touchdown of the night, but Georgia Tech managed to squeeze in a 40-yard field goal to make it 28-24 at halftime.

After a Tar Heel three-and-out, Georgia Tech blocked a punt to get the ball at UNC’s 40-yard line, but senior defensive back Don Chapman immediately intercepted King’s gamble throw into triple coverage. North Carolina capitalized with a 7-minute drive that concluded with Maye’s 14-yard touchdown.

Trailing 35-24 in the fourth quarter, the Yellow Jackets ran the ball eight times and passed just once to march down the field, with running back Jamal Haynes putting the finishing touches on the 88-yard drive. Georgia Tech scored a 2-point conversion to trim it to 35-32.

Redshirt first-year Tychaun Chapman ran a 52-yard kickoff return to advance into Georgia Tech territory. Two plays later, Maye connected with Tychaun for a 35-yard touchdown to put UNC up 42-32. 

The shootout only continued two plays later, with Yellow Jacket running back Dontae Smith breaking free for a 70-yard rushing touchdown. Georgia Tech got a crucial stop when UNC kicker Noah Burnette missed a 39-yard field goal.

Haynes rushed 52 yards up the middle on the next play, and moments later, found Seither once again in the end zone. From there, the Yellow Jackets never looked back.

"It is what it is," senior linebacker Cedric Gray said. "We gotta bounce back. We'll find a way to figure this out so we can move forward."

The Tar Heels will return to Kenan Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 4, to face Campbell.

@danielhwei

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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Daniel Wei

Daniel Wei is a 2023-24 assistant sports editor at The Daily Tar Heel. He has previously served as a senior writer. Daniel is a junior pursuing a double major in business administration and economics.