Tar Heels Overtake Canes in Chapel Hill

Tar Heels Overtake Canes in Chapel Hill

by Carter Toole

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – It was a tight, physical battle between two ranked teams on a chilly October night in front of a raucous crowd at Kenan Stadium. And it was the Miami Hurricanes who took a three-point lead into the locker room after 30 minutes.

Then came the third quarter.

North Carolina exploded for three touchdowns in a 10-minute stretch, turning a 17-14 deficit into a 35-17 lead, and eventually pulling away for a 41-31 win Saturday.

No. 25 Miami fell to 4-2 on the season, 0-2 in ACC play, while the 12th-ranked Tar Heels moved to 6-0 and 3-0 in the conference.

UNC outscored the Canes 21-0 and outgained them 182 yards to 32 in that pivotal 15 minutes. Most of the damage was done by quarterback Drake Maye, who completed 17 of 33 passes for 273 yards and four touchdowns on the night, three of them to wide receiver Devontez Walker.

Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke completed 31 of 48 passes for a 391 yards and four touchdowns with two interceptions. Wide receiver Xavier Restrepo had another monster game, catching 11 passes for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Fellow wideout Jacolby George recorded six catches for a career-high 125 yards and one touchdown, while Brashard Smith had three receptions for 90 yards and a score. Henry Parrish, Jr. rushed for 73 yards on 13 carries.

Safety Kam Kinchens tied for the team lead with nine tackles, adding a sack and two passes defensed. Safety James Williams posted eight tackles, while linebacker Francisco Mauigoa recorded six stops and a sack.

“A lot of good effort on the field,” head coach Mario Cristobal said. “In the first half, we felt like we were affecting their quarterback; albeit, the one fumble, we started finding our way offensively, moving the ball down the field and affecting their quarterback enough to put ourselves in a position to take the lead right before halftime with a drive. They came out in the second half, took the momentum with the big play and the touchdown and then we had successive series where we turned the ball over — then find ourselves at the end just trying to catch up with time running pretty quickly.

“Obviously disappointed, especially after we felt we were progressing in the first half. But credit to North Carolina as well.”

Miami committed four turnovers and converted 3 of 11 attempts on third down. The Tar Heels racked up 14 penalties for 147 yards but didn’t turn the ball over. The Canes’ defense pressured Maye throughout the night – registering a season-high five sacks – but UNC amassed 508 total yards, including 235 rushing yards against a defense that had not allowed 100 rushing yards in any of its first five games. Running back Omarion Hampton had 24 carries for 197 yards and one touchdown, and the aforementioned Walker had six catches for 132 yards and the three scores.

The Canes received the ball to open the game, but the drive stalled at their 46. Dylan Joyce pinned UNC down at the 12-yard line. Maye scrambled for a first down on 3rd and 10 to give the Tar Heels some breathing room, but the Canes held from there and took over with good field position at the UM 45.

UNC’s defense forced a three-and-out and on 2nd and 8 from the 11-yard line, Maye rolled left and hit wide receiver J.J. Jones for 48 yards into Miami territory. Seven plays later Maye connected with Walker on an 18-yard touchdown pass to give the Tar Heels a 7-0 lead.

On Miami’s next drive, Van Dyke connected with George on a 37-yard catch-and-run; that coupled with two personal fouls on UNC’s defense moved the ball into the red zone. But on first and goal at the one-yard line, Parrish fumbled the ball into the end zone and UNC linebacker Cedric Gray recovered, returning the ball to the UNC 6.

On the next snap defensive end Rueben Bain sacked Maye and forced a fumble but Tar Heels tight end Kamari Morales recovered to keep the drive alive. Kinchens later nailed Maye on a safety blitz and made a key third-down stop to force another UNC punt. Miami took over at its 37 and immediately went back to work.

Van Dyke connected with wide receiver Colbie Young for 11 yards and the Tar Heels committed two more penalties to move the ball to the 20. Two plays later Van Dyke found Restrepo wide open in the end zone and the game was tied up at seven.

The Canes forced another punt and took over at their nine-yard line. Van Dyke hit Restrepo for a key third down and then Parrish scampered around the left end for 29 yards to the Canes 45. Miami then faced a 4th and 2 from the UNC 47 and Van Dyke rolled right to find wide receiver Isaiah Horton for a seven-yard gain. Two snaps later, Van Dyke stood tall in the pocket and delivered a gorgeous deep ball to George in stride for a 35-yard touchdown and the Canes had their first lead of the night.

But the Tar Heels answered right back as Hampton capped a nine-play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard scoring plunge to tie the game with 2:05 left in the first half.

The teams traded three-and-outs and Miami got the ball back at its 34 with 55 seconds remaining. Van Dyke hit George for 12 yards and then found Horton on a quick screen for 24 yards to the UNC 30. The Canes reached the nine-yard line and called their final timeout with two ticks on the clock. Borregales kicked a 28-yard field goal to give Miami a 17-14 halftime lead, a half in which UNC had more penalties (9) than Maye had completions (8).

The Tar Heels retook the lead when Maye hit Walker in stride for a 56-yard touchdown just 1:48 into the third quarter. The Canes crossed midfield on the ensuing possession, but UNC pounced on a fumbled snap and took over at its own 45. But after Hampton rushed for 21 yards on consecutive plays, a sack by Mauigoa pushed the Tar Heels out of field goal range. Miami took over at the 14-yard line.

But on the next snap Gray leaped to pick off Van Dyke at the Canes 23. It was Gray’s fifth career interception. A holding penalty backed the Tar Heels into a 3rd and 20 but Maye pulled another rabbit out of his hat, hitting Walker for a 33-yard touchdown, their third scoring connection of the night. UNC had a 28-17 lead.

Miami couldn’t move the chains on its next possession and the Tar Heels responded with another touchdown march, as Maye capped a nine-play, 63-yard drive with a four-yard toss to Hampton.

The Canes crossed midfield and faced a 4th and 10 at the Tar Heels 44 to start the fourth quarter. Van Dyke’s throw to Restrepo fell incomplete and UNC took over. Noah Burnette capped the Tar Heels’ drive with a 34-yard field goal to push their lead to three touchdowns.

On the next drive, Van Dyke connected twice with Smith for 36 yards to help move the ball inside the red zone. The Canes faced a 4th and 10 at the UNC 13 and Van Dyke threw a dart to Restrepo, whose second touchdown reception cut the lead to 38-24 with 7:14 left in the game.

But two snaps later, Hampton bolted up the middle for a 60-yard run, which led to another field goal by Burnette. Van Dyke hit Smith on a 54-yard touchdown strike to pull the Canes within 10 points. Walker recovered the ensuing onsides kick and Miami used its timeouts to get the ball back. Van Dyke’s last pass of the game on the last play of the game was intercepted by defensive back Giovanni Biggers.

Miami heads back home to face Clemson next Saturday night at Hard Rock Stadium. Kickoff is 8 p.m. on ACC Network.