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UNC Football: Halloween Frights

For the Tar Heels, there’s more tricks than treats in games on Halloween.

The Spooky at illumi Thematic universe will stun everybody with more than 1,500 jack-o-lanterns of all shapes & sizes! Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Recent history has not been kind to Carolina on the week of Halloween. The Tar Heels are 1-6 in the last seven years on the week of All Hallows’ Eve. All of the losses have been haunting, some spooky, some expected, and none of them left a smile on children’s faces. Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, probably located somewhere on Elm Street.

Miami: 28 October 2017 (19-24)

An undefeated Miami team stormed into Chapel Hill to take on the 1-8 Tar Heels. Easy work? Well, not quite. The Heels led the game 6-0 into the second quarter before Miami got its first touchdown.

Quarterback Chazz Surratt took a frightful hit, knocking him out of the game and bringing in the scariest sight most UNC football fans have ever seen: Nathan Elliott at quarterback. Elliott threw for just 173 yards on 39 attempts, and had three interceptions against one touchdown. Despite not playing well, Carolina did have a shot to win the game in the fourth quarter, but in their final drive, Jordon Brown fumbled the ball with 2:11 left, sealing UNC’s fate.

Virginia: 27 October 2018 (21-31)

Want to spook Carolina? Have a running quarterback. Want to terrify Carolina? Have that running quarterback be Bryce Perkins. That guy absolutely murdered the Tar Heels to the tune of 112 rushing yards and a touchdown, along with 217 passing yards and three touchdowns.

Equally scary was the rushing discrepancy between Virginia and UNC. The Cavs combined to rush for 208 yards and Perkins’s score. Carolina only had 66 rushing yards and one score—Michael Carter’s one-yard plunge in garbage time.

Virginia: 2 November 2019 (31-38)

Sam Howell’s freshman year! While Carolina’s offense became a treat, the defense was still tricked—to the tune of 38 points, 21 of them in the third quarter. Howell showed tantalizing potential, but Bryce Perkins was the show. The senior quarterback passed for 378 yards and three touchdowns, and ran for 112 yards and two more scores. Howell had two opportunities to tie the game in the fourth quarter, but twice threw incomplete on fourth down.

Virginia: 31 October 2020 (41-44)

The final installment of a trilogy of horror, this one inside an empty Scott Stadium due to Covid-19.

Toe Groves fumbled a punt just before halftime, leading to a Virginia touchdown and one-point lead. In the third quarter, Sam Howell was sacked and fumbled on the way down, leading to another easy score for the Hoos.

Carolina was down 21 near the end of the third quarter, and despite getting a quick interception and score at the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Heels could not overcome that deficit.

Notre Dame: 30 October 2021 (34-44)

Under the lights in South Bend! And what could be scarier than having to listen to Doug Flutie on NBC? Ground and pound. For the Tar Heels, dealing with midwestern beef on the Irish offensive line was an outright nightmare.

Kyren Williams terrorized the Heels with 199 rushing yards on 22 carries, including a knife-in-the-back 91-yard run on 1st & 10 on ND’s 9-yard line.

Georgia Tech: 28 October 2023 (42-46)

There’s not much I can say about this one that THB editor Tanya hasn’t already. I will add that this is the least fun one of the group, since Carolina fans had every expectation of winning this game, especially since the Tar Heels already farted and had to throw away their underwear the previous week at home to Virginia.

Happy Halloween to all of our friends in Tar Heel nation! I hope you get Reese’s peanut butter cups and no Smarties!