UNC survives a sloppy affair overcoming a part of miscues and multiple inopportune penalties to get by Virginia 26-13.
For a second straight home game UNC got the ball to start the contest and like last week squandered the first drive with a turnover. The offense moved the ball into Virginia territory and had a first down at the Cavalier 13 on a Mack Hollns catch but an John Ferranto was flagged for being ineligible downfield. A third down pass to Hollins was short of the first down but within Nick Weiler's field goal range. However Hollins fumbled the ball ending the drive.
Virginia made UNC paid getting a field goal to take a 3-0 lead. UNC responded on the subsequent drive with a steady diet of Elijah Hood, a 31 yard run from Marquise Williams and T.J. Logan scoring from 16 yards out to put the Tar Heels up 7-3.
UNC's defense however struggled slowing Virginia down. Cavalier running back Daniel Hamm popped off a 53-yard run to move deep into Tar Heel territory. On third and goal at the one, Matt Johns found Charlie Hopkins in the back of the end zone to put Virginia back in front 10-7.
The Tar Heels struggled on the next series and facing fourth and three at the Virginia 42 yard line, Larry Fedora opted to punt. Hunter Lent's 15 yard net kick gave Virginia the ball at the 27 yard line. The Tar Heel defense held with the aid of a UVa false start on fourth and six with the Cavaliers going for it from the UNC 34.
Following the punt, UNC used a combination of Hood and Williams runs to move the ball. Williams threw a 53 yard rope to Bug Howard to set the Heels up in prime scoring position at the Virginia three . The Tar Heels wasted little time on first and goal giving it to Hood who found the end zone. On the point after try, the Tar Heels opted to use the special formation put Corbin Daly's pass to Nick Weiler was short of the goal line.
Despite taking the lead and getting a defensive stop on the next Virgina possession, UNC failed to seize control of the game. Marquise Williams attempted an ill advised pass under pressure resulting in his seventh interception of the season. Virginia took advantage of UNC's second miscue of the game to chew most of the remaining clock and tie the game with a field goal with 25 seconds left.
The scant seconds left in the first half wasn't without controversy. A screen pass to Mack Hollins got the Tar Heels to midfield. WIlliams then threw deep to Hollins who hauled it in at the UVa one but was flagged for offensive pass interference. UNC let time expire as an irate Larry Fedora spent a few extra seconds expressing his dissatisfaction to the officials.
Virginia opened the second half with the ball and as has been the case this season, Gene Chizik's halftime adjustments paid dividends. UNC started pressuring Matt Johns and on one of those pressures, Johns was picked off by Sam Smiley. What followed was one of the stranger drives of the season with UNC needing six plays to go four yards in 2:27 resulting in a field goal to take a 16-13 lead.
The UNC defense stiffened again for another stop. With the Tar Heels back on offense the one-two combination of Williams and Hood moved the ball into Virginia territory. Hood scored his second touchdown of the day from three yards out to give the Tar Heels a 23-13 led early in the fourth quarter.
From there the game devolved into a litany of penalties with a healthy mix of forced turnovers by UNC. Malik Simmons first interception of the season allowed the Tar Heels to put three more points on the board. With time growing short, Virginia put together a sustained drive during which Simmons committed two pass interference penalties to afford the Cavaliers a red zone opportunity. Johns pass on fourth and goal from the four was picked off by Shakeel Rashad to end the Cavalier scoring threat.
UNC was unable to sustain drives in clock burning mode but it didn't matter as two additional VIrginia drives were snuffed out by turnovers. Mikey Bart stripped Johns on a sack to end one series while Simmons collected his second intercpetion of the game to close out the game
Elijah Hoods carried the ball 21 times for 101 yards on the day. Marquise Williams had 71 yards on 12 carries plus 226 yards in the air on 21-26 passing and an interception. Shakeel Rashad racked up 10 tackles and an interception while Mikey Bart record two sacks and two tackles for loss in limiting Virginia to just 13 points.
UNC moves to 6-1 overall and 3-0 in ACC play and now face the most important stretch of the schedule starting Thursday night in Pittsburgh.