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UNC Football vs. Wake Forest: Player of the Game - Drake Maye

Despite weapons getting injured and drives sputtering at the wrong moments, Drake Maye does enough to get Carolina over the line to win the Coastal Division

NCAA Football: North Carolina at Wake Forest Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Carolina’s offense was rolling in the first half against Wake Forest. The Tar Heels scored touchdowns in four of their six drives (Noah Burnette missed the extra point on the last one, hence only 27 points at the half), and Josh Downs was responsible for three of them. His first half was ridiculous, and he could easily be “Player of the Game” for a second week in a row, if he hadn’t been knocked out of the game for a portion of the second half.

Downs was making Wake’s secondary look silly. This was entirely necessary when Antoine Green was knocked out of the game by an illegal hit from AJ Williams.

UNC’s offense lost some vertical threat without Green, with Gavin Blackwell unable to get under a deep Maye toss after he stacked his defender. Even still, Maye did a great job of finding receivers all over the field, getting his tight ends back in the mix—Nesbit, Copenhaver, and Morales caught nine passes for 116 yards—and getting his underclassmen some love (Blackwell, Jones, and Paysour all had catches... and some drops.)

Maye’s performance could have been even better if J.J. Jones had come down with some catches beyond the first down marker, a touchdown pass to Nesbit that hit his hands, and the previously mentioned deep ball to Blackwell. All that nitpicking to say, Maye could have done better than his 448 yards passing, three passing TDs, and a rushing TD, if his teammates could squeeze just an ounce more quality out of their efforts.

Carolina football in 2022 is not for the faint of heart. Tar Heels are not allowed to watch Maye put the team up by four touchdowns and coast to victory. But each tough win (this victory at Wake Forest being their sixth on the road!) makes this team even tougher and more resilient for the next round.

Drake Maye is a Carolina football hero. Once he gets his slide perfected (at least he’s not leaping over defenders and landing hard anymore), the Heels will really be in business.