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UNC’s ACC Coastal hopes diminish after falling short in shootout with Virginia


Virginia v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

UNC knew coming into this game that they needed to beat Virginia to control their destiny in the ACC Coastal. Their offense was able to mostly keep pace with the Cavaliers, but the Tar Heel defense had no answer for Bryce Perkins and the UVA offense.

Virginia’s defense came into the game ranked 11th in the nation. Sam Howell threw for 353 yards and four touchdowns against that defense while UNC accumulated 539 total yards. It wasn’t enough. The defense couldn’t get hold when they needed to and the third quarter was ultimately UNC’s undoing. The teams exchanged 35 of the game’s 69 total points in the third quarter alone while neither scored in the fourth quarter.

Perkins was excellent, throwing for 378 yards and three touchdowns. He completed 30 of his 39 pass attempts and rushed for 112 yards and two scores on the ground. Virginia’s team was also fortunate when it came to penalties, only getting called for an out of bounds kick on the opening kickoff and a delay of game penalty late.

It was a bad time for UNC’s defense to fall so short. They’d been extremely good in nearly every game outside of the one against Virginia Tech to this point. Unfortunately, Perkins was able to pick on the UNC corners in a big way and the defensive unit as a whole never really found a way to adjust.

Carolina could technically still win the Coastal, but it’s not likely to happen. This was the game they needed in order to feel good about their chances of getting their Clemson rematch. It’s easy to be conflicted about what that means for this season as a whole. Having any chance of competing for the Coastal crown after the last couple seasons seems like an easy win in and of itself, but the expectations grew beyond that with early season success (and the division being exceptionally weird as well). There’s a lot to be excited about going forward, even if finishing this season is more about pride than anything else.

How cool is it that we can even be having this conversation again, though? That’s what I’m choosing to focus on for now.

UNC gets another bye before squaring off against Pitt in two weeks.