Chapel Hill, N.C. — Apparently lightning does not strike twice in subsequent weekends on the campus of the University of North Carolina. After
upsetting No. 3 Miami last Saturday, the Tar Heels of UNC could not repeat the feat against 18th-ranked Virginia Tech, losing 27-24. UNC trimmed a
27-14 VT lead to 27-24 with two late scores, but Carolina kicker Connor Barth missed a 54-yard field goal attempt short and left with just over a
minute remaining. The Hokies were led by 236 yards rushing from Mike Imoh on 31 carries.
Despite what the score read when the clock struck zero, Tech dominated nearly every aspect of the football game en route to its victory. The most
obvious signifier of this was time of possession; the Hokies had the ball 36:03—or 60% of the game. UNC used a quick-strike offensive attack saw
most of its success come from four big plays that either scored or set up scores.
Tech managed 370 total yards of offense on 69 total plays — 51 of which were on the ground. Through the air, Hokie quarterback Bryan Randall
completed 9 of his 18 passes for 100 yards. He did not throw any interceptions or touchdowns. Randall also added 11 yards on the ground, one of his
rushes being good for a touchdown from one yard out.
Randall was not wholly aided by his receiving corps in times of need throughout the course of the game. The usually dependable redshirt freshman
Josh Hyman dropped three critical passes and fellow freshman Josh Morgan dropped one as well. Another freshman, Eddie Royal, hauled in four passes for
84 yards, including a well-timed 43-yard reception from Randall.
North Carolina’s big plays were aided by Tech’s inability to tackle, coupled by getting beaten in coverage. Tar Heel tailback Chad Scott looked
impressive running the ball at times for the second week in a row — he tallied 122 yards on 15 carries to lead his team. Senior quarterback Darian
Durant completed 14 of 20 passes for 165 yards. Durant threw a touchdown and an interception. His primary target was Jawarski Pollock, who had 6
catches for 40 yards. The Tar Heels also blocked a Vinnie Burns punt and fell on it in the end zone for a fourth-quarter TD that closed the gap to
Coming into the game, the Hokie defense was ranked seventh nationally, giving up 275.38 yards per game. North Carolina managed to accrue 296 total
yards on 47 offensive plays. Freshman linebacker Xavier Adibi tallied five tackles, leading Tech in tackling for the second week in a row. Also with
five tackles was senior safety Vincent Fuller, who left the game in the second quarter with a sprained shoulder and did not return.
Junior cornerback Jimmy Williams intercepted an errant Durant pass and returned it 11 yards. The Hokies had six tackles for loss, including three
sacks. Two of the sacks came from junior end Darryl Tapp, with the other one coming from Jim Davis at the end of the ball game prior to Barth's missed
field goal attempt. Davis sacked UNC QB Darian Durant for an 11-yard loss on 3rd and 8, turning a potential 43-yard field goal into a 54-yarder that
Barth couldn't make good on.
With the win, the Hokies move to 7-2 overall, winners of 7 of their last 8, and 4-1 in the ACC, good enough for a first place tie. UNC falls to 4-5
(3-3). Tech is back in action again on Thursday, November 18th, hosting Maryland.
The Hokies started out on defense in Chapel Hill. Freshman Jared Develli began the festivities with a booming kickoff that sailed into the end
zone, preventing a Tar Heel return. The Hokies quickly caused a third-and-two situation, but Durant compeleted a 6-yard slant to sophomore Jesse
Holley. Four plays later, on a second down, Durant handed off to Scott who shed tackling attempts by Fuller and senior rover James Griffin and
scampered 48 yards for a touchdown.
Tech did not waste much time answering the early Tar Heel strike. On the first play from scrimmage, Randall found Hyman on the sideline for a gain
of 15, but the play was called incomplete, as Hyman failed to shoestring the sideline. On the next play, Randall was sacked for a loss of three yards
by junior linebacker Jeff Longhany. Facing a third and 13, Randall found Hyman on a slant, but the pass was dropped. The referees called a personal
foul for a late hit, which sustained the Tech drive. Given the second chance, the Hokes decided to keep the ball on the ground with Imoh, who
eventually scored on a five-yard touchdown run. The 10-play, 72-yard drive consumed 5:25 of the clock and was capped by a 24-yard run by Imoh on the
option. Imoh had 53 rushing yards on the drive.
The Heels got the ball with 6:35 remaining and started to move the ball up the field, picking up a first down. On a first-and-10, Durant noticed a
seam on the sideline, but just before he found daylight with his feet, Tapp pulled him down for a 3-yard loss. On the following play, Durant kept the
ball again and gained four yards. As Durant was approaching the sideline, he was met by Fuller, who was thrown down, suffering a sprained right
shoulder. After a holding call, defensive tackle Jonathan Lewis flushed Durant out of the pocket, leading to an incomplete pass and a fourth down.
Griffin was the player who broke up the pass.
The Hokies got the ball on their 28-yard line and wasted no time charging up the field. Randall found Royal for 43 yards on a timed fly route up
the sideline. After getting sacked on first down, Randall kept the ball on the option and gained 14 yards. After another sack for a loss of 10 yards
later in the drive, the Hokies eventually had to attempt a field goal. Sophomore Brandon Pace’s 39-yard attempt sailed wide right.
UNC used another big play to find the scoreboard on its next drive. Scott picked up 23 yards on the first two carries of the series. Durant then
found junior Wallace Wright for a 49-yard touchdown pass that left senior safety Mike Daniels chasing him into the end zone. The Tar Heels made the
score 14-7 in their favor after traveling 78 yards in five plays which took 1:40. The catch was Wallace’s first this season.
On the next possession, Tech slowed the tempo of the game to the pace it was looking for. Imoh scampered for 13 yards on the first play of the
drive and fumbled the ball, which rolled out of bounds. Randall found Royal three different times on the drive, once on a first-and-26 pass play that
was good for 16 yards (the drive’s longest play), which helped sustain the drive. Eventually, Tech set itself up for a Randall one-yard touchdown
run that evened the score at 14. The Hokies marched the ball 86 yards up the field over the course of 16 plays. The drive lasted 7 minutes and 12
seconds, far eclipsing the team’s previous long drive of the season.
On the ensuing possession, Durant threw an interception to Williams on the third play of the drive that eventually set up a 24-yard Pace field goal
that gave the Hokies their first lead of the day, 17-14. UNC got the ball back and eventually attempted a hail mary unsuccessfully, which ended the
Tech came out of the locker room fired up to begin the second half of the ball game. Imoh opened with a 47-yard run on the first play of the half.
However, Randall tripped coming back from the line of scrimmage four plays later and was sacked on the next play. The result of the drive was another
Pace field goal. He converted from 36 yards out, making the score 20-14, in favor of Tech.
On the other hand, the Tar Heels stumbled out of the gate early in the second half. UNC backed itself up to its own three-yard line before they
could run its first offensive play with three penalties: a personal foul on the kickoff, a holding penalty, and a false start. After moving the ball
out to the eight, the Tar Heels were forced to punt to Royal who returned the kick seven yards.
After getting the ball on the UNC 44, the Hokies climbed upon the back of Imoh and rode him into the end zone. After a one-yard screen to junior
Justin Hamilton, Tech put the ball in Imoh’s hands six times until he found paydirt. The drive ended with the 5’7 speedster running the ball 13
yards for the score to put Tech up 27-14. The seven-play drive lasted 4:20.
Again, the Tar Heels started the next drive with a penalty (false start). This time, however, they were able to regroup and put together a drive.
Durant found sophomore Mike Mason for 30 yards that put the Heels in field goal range. Barth converted a 34-yard field goal that made the scoreboard
read 27-17 thereafter.
Tech got the ball back and suffered its first three-and-out of the afternoon. Hyman dropped a slant from Randall on second down. Had Hyman hauled
in the pass, he had nothing but green ahead of him. Burns booted the ball 53 yards, but the Heels managed to return the ball 28 yards.
The Heels answered Tech’s three-and-out with one of their own and gave the Hokies the ball on their own 16-yard line with 12:09 remaining. After
two unsuccessful Imoh runs and an incompletion, the Hokies lined up for their second punt of the day. UNC’s Tom O’Leary broke through the line and
blocked Burns’ kick. The ball was picked up by D.J Walker on the one and was run into the end zone to bring the score to 27-24.
Tech got the ball back and pieced together a nine-play drive that moved the ball 26 yards to the UNC 47. Imoh ran the ball 21 of those yards on
five carries. The drive stalled when UNC batted a Randall pass attempt down, and tipped the next pass attempt to force a punt with 6:15 on the clock.
The Tar Heels got the ball on their 19 and began their final drive. Durant ran for seven yards on first down and handed the ball off to Scott, who
picked up 12 on second. Durant then found Mason for 12 yards, and Tech was offsides on the following play. Two plays later, Durant found Pollock for
16 yards, and it appeared the Tar Heels were in range for a game-tying field goal. Three plays later, Davis broke into the back field and swallowed up
Durant for an 11-yard loss before he could pass to Scott, who was open in the flats. The sack resulted in a fourth down and 19 from the Virginia Tech
37. After a timeout, Barth attempted a 54-yard field goal that fell short, keeping the score 27-24.
The Hokies gained a first down in the form of two Mike Imoh runs and were successfully able to run out the rest of the clock and preserve the