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.