Drake Maye threw for two touchdowns and ran for another and No. 17 North Carolina outscored Virginia 21-7 after halftime to rally for a 31-28 victory Saturday in Charlottesville.
Elijah Green scored twice and Josh Downs caught 15 passes, including a touchdown, for the Tar Heels (8-1, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference, No. 17 CFP), now 5-0 in league play for the first time since 2015, when they qualified for their lone appearance in the ACC championship.
UNC coach Mack Brown wanted to highlight a different 5-0: the Tar Heels’ record on the road this year.
The last time North Carolina won five straight road games, he said, was in 1997.
“Nobody on that team was even born the last time we won five consecutive games on the road,” Brown said. And last year, they lost all six away from Chapel Hill.
The five wins have come by a total of 18 points.
“We didn’t play well at times today and the guys overcame it. They kept their heads up. They kept a good body language, they kept their confidence, and they just kept playing,” Brown said.
The Cavaliers (3-6, 1-5), playing without three starting wide receivers, lost for the fifth time in six games and need to win their final three games to qualify for a bowl game.
Virginia started fast, getting a touchdown on its opening drive for the first time this season and led 14-10 at halftime. But Maye led the Tar Heels downfield in just 2:55 to start the third quarter, Green finishing the drive with a 4-yard run. Virginia answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive of its own to retake the lead, but Maye found Downs from 19 yards before the quarter was over and hit Green with a 22-yard pass in the flat with 13:19 left.
Brennan Armstrong pulled Virginia within a field goal with his second scoring run with 3:24 left on a drive that covered 71 yards in just 59 seconds, but Virginia was offsides on the ensuing onside kick, giving UNC the ball at the Cavaliers 23. One more completion to a diving Downs converting a third and 2 allowed the Tar Heels to run out the clock.
Virginia next stays at home for its third of four consecutive home games, taking on Pittsburgh.
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