The Daily Tar Heel
Printing news. Raising hell. Since 1893.
Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024 Newsletters Latest print issue

We keep you informed.

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

No. 10 UNC football defeated by unranked UVA in first loss of season

20231021_cox_unc-vs.-uva-football-game-halftime
UNC junior wide receiver Devontez 'Tez' Walker scores a touchdown during the football game against UVA in Kenan Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 21

The No. 10 North Carolina football team (6-1, 3-1 ACC) fell to Virginia (2-5, 1-2 ACC), 31-27, at Kenan Stadium on Saturday evening in the Tar Heels' first loss of the season.

Virginia entered the matchup with the worst scoring offense and defense in the ACC, but neither statistic seemed to matter in this tightly contested bout. The Cavaliers forced UNC to punt on its opening drive. Seven plays later, Virginia running back Mike Hollins drew first blood with an 11-yard rushing touchdown to go up 7-0 within the first four minutes. It was North Carolina’s first time this season allowing points in the first quarter at home.

“That first drive was lackadaisical on offense," sophomore quarterback Drake Maye said. "Afterwards, they came down and scored. After that, we knew we were in a dogfight.”

The Tar Heels quickly answered, with Maye finding junior receiver Tez Walker for a 25-yard touchdown. After both teams traded punts, Virginia closed out the first quarter with a 14-7 lead off a 3-yard rush from Hollins.

After the teams traded punts again, Maye fired a pass to junior tight end Bryson Nesbit, who tore down the left sideline for a 62-yard touchdown, tying the game at 14-14 early in the second quarter.

UNC elected to go for it on a fourth-and-6, but Maye’s pass to Nesbit was nearly picked off. The Cavaliers nearly capitalized on the other end with a 39-yard drive, but graduate defensive back Armani Chatman intercepted Virginia quarterback Tony Muskett in the end zone. UNC closed out the half leading 17-14, with junior kicker Noah Burnette barely squeaking in a 43-yard field goal.

Six minutes into the second half, Maye capped off a 60-yard drive with a 3-yard keeper touchdown after faking a handoff to sophomore running back Omarion Hampton. Trailing 24-14, the Cavaliers marched into North Carolina territory with a 13-play, 74-yard drive, concluded by yet another Hollins score.

Approaching the end of the third quarter, a miscommunication on downing UNC’s punt granted Virginia a favorable field position at the North Carolina 27-yard line. The Cavaliers tied the game at 24 apiece with a 45-yard field goal.

The Tar Heels opened up the fourth quarter with a 27-yard field goal, but Virginia erupted for a 7-play, 73-yard drive in just three minutes to go up 31-27. That sequence was highlighted by Muskett finding receiver Malik Washington for a 30-yard gain and a 14-yard touchdown, respectively.

The Cavaliers forced a UNC three-and-out and nearly took a double-digit lead to seal the game, but Chatman forced a Hollins fumble for a touchback, giving possession back to North Carolina. However, the Tar Heels couldn’t capitalize on a fourth-and-12 at the Virginia 20-yard line.

“Virginia had a plan," senior jack Kaimon Rucker said. "They stuck to the split outside zone plays and they were very successful off of them. Virginia came to play and we didn’t.”

After an unsuccessful UVA drive, UNC had one more chance to win the game with just over a minute remaining. The ensuing drive ended with an interception, with Maye's pass being picked off by UVA's James Jackson on a second-and-10 on the UVA 48-yard line.

"Our guys played hard, but we just didn't make plays," head coach Mack Brown said. "Now, we have to go back to work and go to Georgia Tech next week.”

The Tar Heels will travel to Atlanta on Oct. 28 to take on Georgia Tech (3-4, 2-2 ACC). UNC has won just one of its past five matchups with the Yellow Jackets.

@danielhwei

@dthsports | sports@dailytarheel.com

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


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.