North Carolina was on the heels of Virginia late Saturday night, tied at the top of the ACC with the Cavaliers and an ACC championship appearance on the line.
Kenan Memorial Stadium was rocking and sold out, but even the loudest Tar Heel fan support just wasn’t enough to win the game as they were forced to accept defeat with a final score of 38-31. The Tar Heels needed one late push and had two cracks at it but despite the usual late-game heroic efforts of Sam Howell and the Tar Heels, they just couldn’t pass the needle with zero points scored in the 4th quarter for the first time this season.
The biggest struggle for the Heels this game came on the defensive side, where they just couldn’t stop quarterback Bryce Perkins who threw for 378 yards 30-39 while running for 112 yards with five touchdowns combined. Carolina’s game wasn’t all bad as the offense did excel early on with Sam Howell throwing for 353 yards and four touchdowns with Dyami Brown catching three of those for 202 yards. The game came down to the very end where the defense stepped up when needed in the 4th quarter to get the ball in Howell’s hands with two chances to tie the ball game. However, Howell, who usually turns into a hot machine, matched the weather and got cold by not being able to get in the end zone as Cavaliers defense stepped up.
The Tar Heels now find themselves 4-5 and despite the lackluster record, this team has exceeded many expectations with the return of Mack Brown. A once basketball only town is starting to see the shift as Carolina Football is back with a chance to sell out all six home games and amazing exposure for the program. The Tar Heels’ chances at the ACC championship game are now slim to none, but a bowl game looks to still be in the works to make the losing season into a moral victory at the very least. There is no doubt that the Tar Heels are heading in the right direction with the fan support behind them more than ever.
North Carolina has three winnable games remaining on the schedule with two games on the road at Pittsburgh and NC State and a final home game against Mercer. Carolina fans shouldn’t hold their heads down. Despite the record, this season has been one to remember from a two-point conversion away from beating Clemson to securing the victory bell from Duke in a late-game win. There’s nothing Tar Heel fans should be disappointed with other than next season not coming fast enough.