It was a tale of two halves for UNC football, but a 21-point third quarter helped shake off the cobwebs and kickstarted a comeback for the Tar Heels in their 41-31 win over Miami. The win moved the Heels to 6-0 for the first time since 1997.
Drake Maye didn’t have his A+ stuff, particularly early on. He went 8-19 in the first half and was sacked four times, which definitely didn’t help. The scuffling led to a 17-14 halftime deficit for the Heels, trailing after the first half for the first time this season. Things definitely turned around for Maye in the second half, as he finished the game with 273 passing yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions.
Carolina won the opening coin toss and received the ball to open the second half. Tez Walker took a 56-yard pass from Maye to the house on the first drive to kick off a three-touchdown quarter for UNC. Walker had a monstrous game with three scores and 132 yards. He hauled in some great throws, to be sure, but he also absolutely cooked his defenders on multiple occasions.
Speaking of guys who found plenty of success against the Miami defense, Omarion Hampton ran wild on the Hurricanes. He totaled 197 yards and both a rushing and receiving touchdown. Walker was second in rushing yards because clearly he felt the need to do a little bit of everything.
Penalties plagued the Tar Heels all game. They racked up 14 penalties totaling 147 yards. Mack Brown was visibly upset with a number of the calls throughout the game, and we’ve definitely seen penalties break this team in the past. Thankfully they were able to overcome them and keep the pedal down while Miami had plenty of self-destructive moments of their own.
In what feels like a mandatory mention at this point, Cedric Gray was a force on defense. He led the team in tackles with 10 (seven solo) and a huge interceptions. Kaimon Rucker had a fantastic second half, finishing the game with six total tackles and being credited with 2.5 sacks. Gio Biggers capped the win off with a pick of his own.
This game was truly an example of growth for Carolina. We’ve seen the lack of discipline snowball and dismantle them in the past. We’ve seen them lose when Maye isn’t firing on all cylinders. We’ve seen them crumble after getting punched in the mouth early on. They overcame all of that tonight for a win against a ranked opponent. What a refreshing change to see out of a squad that really feels like it has matured before our eyes.
Up next, Carolina welcomes Virginia to Chapel Hill next Saturday.