UNC 48, Virginia Tech 34: Gio Bernard's Career Day Propels the Heels Over the Hokies

Lance King - Getty Images

Virginia Tech has no answer for Gio Bernard's 262 yards, while the Tar Heels defense stifles the run and gets UNC their first win over the Hokies in Kenan in the ACC era.

There's still a fair amount to be concerned with about this team. The secondary in particular allowed a lot of good plays, and the number of penalties committed today was obscene. But you can't quibble with the scoreboard, which showed UNC's third straight six-pus touchdown game at home, or the first win in Kenan over Virginia Tech since the Hokies joined the ACC.

And you have a couple of key players to thank for the win. First among them is Giovani Bernard, whose 262 yards on 25 carries just exhausted the Hokie defense. They had no answer for him, especially after he took an excellent block from Luke Heavner I believe to turn a fourth-and-inches opportunity into a 62-yard touchdown run. Bernard is now owner of the 5th-best rushing performance in UNC history, and his day was marred only by a fumbled attempt at fielding a punt that let Virginia Tech off the mat in the first half.

It's almost a shame, because Bernard's eye-popping numbers obscured probably the best performance to date from Sean Tapley. Tapley got things started after Virginia Tech scored on their first possession, returning the ensuing kick 94 yards for a touchdown. The Hokies had the longest streak in the nation of not giving up a kick return for a TD, dating back to 1993, and Tapley made it look like a weekly occurrence. He followed that up with two receptions against a surprisingly strong Tech secondary, including his second touchdown of the day.

Larry Fedora's staff obviously expected a weaker secondary than the Hokies provided; UNC's first two series consisted of five passes and a bungled option run. It wasn't until Bernard took over that the passing game had room to breathe, and Quinshad Davis made the most of it. The freshman would have five catches for 65 yards, his second-best performance of the season and the catches were as phenomenal as we've come to expect.

The defense, after a pretty poor first series, also excelled, at least against the run. Logan Thomas is an incredibly talented quarterback — much better, I think, than Tyrod Tayor before him — so it wasn't a huge surprise that he was Tech's leading rusher. That UNC held him to only 29 yards, and the Hokies as a whole to 40 was phenomenal however. Virginia Tech was instantly one-dimensional, and although Thomas took a lot out of the Carolina secondary, Kevin Reddick especially prevented the QB from doing much more, and a critical fourth down sack from him and Sylvester Williams with three minutes remaining ended the Hokies' brief hopes of a comeback.

So yes, the North Carolina offense looks like the real deal. They may have been a little jumpy to start, excited by the white jerseys and the ACC home opener. Bryn Renner overthrew a few receivers — in part because the Tech secondary can check wideouts well, if nothing else — and Eric Ebron's multitude of penalties overshadowed a great near-touchdown reception, but with the porous defenses the conference provides, I'd expected a lot more high-scoring totals going forward. Now if the Tar Heel secondary can up their play to match the rest of the defense, it looks to be an exceedingly fun October in Chapel Hill.

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