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UNC vs. Wake Forest: Player of the Game - Ty Chandler

Hubert Davis take note. The best way to win a basketball game is through the run.

Wake Forest v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Ty Chandler must be exhausted.

The graduate transfer running back ran wild against Wake Forest in a thrilling comeback victory that put the Tar Heels back on track for a bowl game, and set piles of CFP money on fire. He finished the day with 213 yards on 22 carries, another 30 yards on a brilliant catch, six first-downs, and four touchdowns.

Chandler’s day got off to a rocky start when he “fumbled” on the first offensive play of the game (I’m convinced his ankle and knee touched before Wake linebacker Ryan Smenda ripped at the ball). No matter, he compartmentalized and got to work. His next carry went for 14 yards, and the rest of the day was a lot more of that.

Chandler scored the most touchdowns of his Carolina career, as UNC force-fed Wake’s defense a steady dose of the run game, both from Chandler and quarterback Sam Howell. Howell had only one less carry than Chandler, and ran for 104 yards with two touchdowns. Carolina clearly identified Wake Forest’s run defense as a weakness, running twice as many times (52 total rushes) as they passed (26 pass attempts).

When UNC made their second half push to take the lead, 51-48, and turned Sam Hartman and the Deacon offense over on downs, Wake Forest had a minute and 22 seconds to get a stop and the ball back to tie or win the game.

Instead, Ty Chandler took a single handoff, and ran for a 50-yard touchdown to (almost) seal the game.

Chandler is not Michael Carter. He is not Javonte Williams. But he has shown himself to be enough to help carry the running load for UNC, especially with Sam Howell doing his best to become Lamar Jackson this season.

Chandler should get his rest tonight. Carolina has a short week before heading up to Pittsburgh on Thursday night to face Pitt and their 15th ranked run defense (tops in the ACC).