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UNC 38, Pitt 35: Carolina’s big second half earns Tar Heels first win of the year

Pitt still can’t beat Larry Fedora.

NCAA Football: Pittsburgh at North Carolina Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Larry Fedora continued his voodoo magic against Pitt Saturday afternoon in Kenan Stadium as the Tar Heels were able to prevail over the Panthers for their first win of the season. It marks the sixth straight victory for UNC over Pitt and Fedora remains undefeated against them since they joined the ACC.

The first half saw the Heels get on the board first with a 37-yard run by Antonio Williams in the first quarter. Pitt answered shortly thereafter, and it appeared as though the shootout was on. Neither team played good defense in the first half with both teams heading to the locker room north of 20 points.

Carolina allowed three Pitt touchdowns in the second quarter, but managed to stay in the game by scoring two of their own. Although the Heels trailed at halftime, there was reason to be optimistic about their chances because their offense had managed to actually put up points.

The second half was a different story. Offensively, it was almost all Carolina. They tightened up their defense and kept Pitt off the board until the final minutes of the fourth quarter. That allowed UNC’s offense to take the lead and ultimately rack up enough points that Pitt needed a few lucky breaks down the stretch in order to get a win. Those breaks did not happen.

Nathan Elliott, who has not looked the part of a Division I quarterback to this point in the season, was boosted by an effective ground game that allowed him to do a little less in order to lead his team to victory. Elliott finished the game with 313 yards through the air on 22-of-31 passing. Williams was the star of the day on the ground with 114 yards and two scores, including his long run to open the scoring.

Hopefully the defense found something in the second half that allowed them to be much more effective after halftime. It looked for a while like we might be looking at a score in the 50s based on the first half, but Carolina’s defense really did a good job of containing Pitt after the rough first half. Pitt has had trouble in the second half all season to this point with today’s touchdown in the fourth quarter being their first score after halftime all year. Which is more to blame/worthy of credit? It’s unclear, but we’ll take it.

Now that the first win is in the books the Tar Heels can look forward to playing Miami next Thursday in South Beach. It’ll certainly be a harder test than today’s game against Pitt was, so both the offense and the defense will need to be operating at a high level in order to remain competitive with the Hurricanes.