North Carolina Rolls Over Virginia Tech 56-45

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Virginia Tech - North Carolina scoring summary

North Carolina’s Javonte Williams (25) breaks away from Virginia Tech’s Rayshard Ashby (23) on a 19-yard run for a touchdown to give the Tar Heels’ a 21-0 lead. (Robert Willett, ACC Pool Photograph)

Chapel Hill, NC – No. 8 North Carolina torched Virginia Tech for 656 yards and eight touchdowns on their way to beating No. 19 Virginia Tech 56-45 in Chapel Hill. The Heels took a 21-0 lead 11 minutes into the game and never trailed, though the Hokies were able to close it to 42-37 at the end of the third quarter.

UNC’s 656 yards were not a program record for a Virginia Tech opponent, but it was the most yardage against the Hokies since at least the start of the 1987 season. In 2018, Pittsburgh had 654 yards in a 52-22 win, and UNC topped that by two yards. North Carolina’s 56 points were the most since 1987, when Tulane scored 57 on the Hokies. Miami also beat the Hokies 56-45 in 2002.

As painful as it was, the yardage by UNC wasn’t close to being a record. In 1973, Alabama had 833 yards in a 77-6 victory.

Virginia Tech answered with 495 yards of offense, including 138 yards rushing by star tailback Khalil Herbert, but it wasn’t nearly enough. Braxton Burmeister started and played most of the first half but gave way to Hendon Hooker, who played all of the second half.

North Carolina was better positioned than Virginia Tech’s previous two opponents to take advantage of the Hokies’ depleted defense. At cornerback, Armani Chatman and Jermaine Waller returned to the starting lineup, but the Hokies were forced to start walk-on Tyler Matheny in place of Divine Deablo for a second straight game, and J.R. Walker made his first career start in place of Keonta Jenkins.

“It came down to we were drawing stuff of up just to get people in the game,” said Virginia Tech head coach Justin Fuente. “I’ve never been a part of anything like it in terms of having no safeties. We were better at corner this week, health-wise, but some of those guys hadn’t practiced and we couldn’t get anyone else in there to play safety, so we ended up putting [outside linebacker Alan] Tisdale in there. It’s just almost not even like football. It is what it is and that shouldn’t excuse everybody in the other spots for how they played. First of all, I’ll say this, North Carolina is explosive on offense. If you can’t fit the run game, you’re at their mercy and they can do whatever they want. We weren’t able to get it done down several people and it got pretty rough.”

The situation got even more complicated when starting nickel Chamarri Conner was ejected for targeting in the first quarter.

Virginia Tech’s Chamarri Conner (22) is escorted from the field after being called for targeting after hitting North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell (7) in the first quarter. (Robert Willett, ACC Pool Photograph)

“You’ve got Deablo, Jenkins, Chamarri out,” Fuente said. “We lost [Nasir] Peoples in fall camp, [Devon] Hunter is out, and you’ve got Nadir [Thompson] going in there who’s been out all fall camp but played last week at corner. You throw him in there. Nyquee Hawkins has been out all fall camp. We couldn’t get the corners ready all week to go play safety because we didn’t have most of them.

“The worst thing a coach can do is get up here and give a bunch of excuses. It’s still our job to find a way to get the job done, but there comes a point where you don’t feel like you’re giving your guys a chance because there’s nobody left.”

UNC quarterback Sam Howell was 18-of-23 for 257 yards and three touchdowns, two to Dyami Brown. But Howell was outshined by the UNC rushing attack. Michael Carter (17 carries, 214 yards, 2 TDs) and Javonte Williams (20 carries, 169 yards, 2 TDs) combined for 383 yards and 10.4 yards per carry.

The Heels averaged 9.9 yards per play and had 31 first downs.

Offensively, in addition to Herbert’s 138 yards and 7.7 yards per carry, the Hokies got 103 yards receiving from tight end James Mitchell, who had a 1-yard TD run and a 26-yard TD catch. The Hokies did not turn the ball over and committed just four penalties for 26 yards, including two unsportsmanlike penalties with one second left to go in the game.

Burmeister was 7-of-15 passing for 79 yards, all in the first half, and Hooker was 7-of-13 for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Hooker threw just one pass and only played three downs in the first half.

UNC had a lot to celebrate early on, scoring three quick touchdowns. (Robert Willett, ACC Pool Photograph)

Virginia Tech-North Carolina Game Action

The game got off to a very rough start for the Virginia Tech defense, which was shredded for three touchdown drives in the first 11 minutes. UNC drove 75 yards, 83 yards and 66 yards with the run and the pass, scoring on runs of 1 yard and 19 yards by Javonte Williams and a 37-yard TD catch by Dyami Brown.

The UNC scoring drives bracketed two three-and-outs by the Hokies, and with 4:09 to go first quarter, the Heels led 21-0 and had outgained the Hokies 239-14.

Over the course of the next 12:41 of the game, Virginia Tech’s offense woke up and the Hokies defense got a couple of stops. Tech scored two touchdowns on drives of 11 plays, 75 yards (1-yard TD run by James Mitchell) and 9 plays, 70 yards (8-yard run by Khalil Herbert), closing the gap to 21-14.

The second Virginia Tech touchdown happened with 6:28 to go in the first half, but the rest of the half wasn’t kind to the Hokies. UNC went on touchdown drives of 75 yards and 58 yards, sandwiched around a Virginia Tech turnover on downs, to take a 35-14 lead into the break.

UNC’s final touchdown of the first half was particularly painful for the Hokies. Down 28-14, Virginia Tech drove to the UNC side of the field and went for it on fourth and three from the North Carolina 42 with 1:14 to go. A slant pass from Burmeister to Tre Turner went incomplete, and the Heels took over with 1:11 left in the half. Four plays later, on first down at the Tech 43, Sam Howell hit Brown for a touchdown against single coverage by Jermaine Waller, in his first action of the season, with just 16 seconds left in the half.

At half time, UNC had 372 yards of offense and 17 first downs, to 190 and nine for the Hokies. Braxton Burmeister was 7-of-15 passing for 79 yards, and Burmeister had run 11 times for 51 yards, but Khalil Herbert, the nation’s leading rusher, had just six carries for 32 yards. Hendon Hooker had played just one series, a three-and-out.

In the second half, Virginia Tech offensive coordinator Brad Cornelsen handed the keys to Hooker and Herbert, and the Hokie offense fared much better, scoring 31 points and racking up 305 yards. The Hokie defense, unfortunately, couldn’t stop the North Carolina onslaught.

Virginia Tech scored 31 second-half points with Hendon Hooker behind center. (Robert Willett, ACC Pool Photograph)

Virginia Tech started the second half with an apparent touchdown drive, as Hooker hit Turner for a 29-yard touchdown, but the Hokies where whistled for an illegal shift on the play.

“We moved a back while Tre was in motion,” Fuente said. “It was a good call. We all knew it was coming back as soon as it happened.”

The drive stalled, and Brian Johnson came on to hit a career-high 55-yard field goal to make it 35-17, Heels.

UNC rolled 75 yards in 6 plays in response, capped by a 16-yard touchdown run by Michael Carter, to take a huge 42-17 lead with 7:14 to go third quarter.

Virginia Tech was teetering, but the Hokies came to life and scored 20 unanswered points in the next 6:59:

  • Virginia Tech went 75 yards in 4 plays, including a 57-yard pass to James Mitchell. Hooker finished it off with a five-yard TD run. 42-24.
  • Johnson kicked an onsides kicks that he recovered himself, and Virginia Tech then went 54 yards in three plays, capped off by a brilliant 52-yard TD run by Herbert. 42-31.
  • Tech forced a three and out, then went 77 yards in eight plays, with Hooker hitting Tayvion Robinson for a 33-yard score. The two-point conversion failed, and Virginia Tech was back in it, down 42-37 with 15 seconds to go in the third quarter.

That was quite the comeback by the Hokies, but from then on, it was all UNC. The Heels went 75 yards in six plays (Dazz Newsome, 12-yard TD catch), stopped the Hokies, and then went 78 yards in four plays (Michael Carter, 62-yard TD run) to go back up 56-37.

Virginia Tech responded with a 26-yard TD pass from Hooker to Mitchell. A two-point conversion made it 56-45, but the game ended with UNC in the victory formation inside the Virginia Tech ten-yard line.

Virginia Tech next plays Boston College on October 17 in Lane Stadium. The Eagles beat Pitt in overtime, 31-30, to go to 3-1. The game is at 8 PM on the ACC Network.

— box score —

Virginia Tech-North Carolina Team and Player Stats


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53 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. first half unc 35-14

    second half vt 35-21

    What’s the difference? In any game having all of your safeties replace by back up corners means trouble. Not Fuente’s fault and 496 yards of offense is all him. Get our defensive backfield in good health, and the game has a better outcome.


  3. I understand the defensive limitations, but why didn’t Fu start HH. Does he not know who our QB is yet?

    1. There’s no question HH is the guy, however, BB has gotten a ton more reps, and that factors in to who plays and when. I guarantee that Fu went with the guy that he thought gave them the best chance to win.

  4. Not enough players to get the job done. You have to realize the disadvantage Tech was with all those defensive players out. Cannot fault the coaches or the team for the effort against a good UNC team. Give credit where it is due and stop crying over the out come. We did our best with the players available to play football on this Saturday. The sun is still going to rise in the east and set in the west!! Go Hokies!!!!! Pray to God for him to get us out of this pandemic.

    1. Very true!!! If we were full strength defensively with the sufficient practices, the outcome could very well be different. Kudos to all the kids who played and gave it their best under very extraordinary difficult situation for a team.

      1. Yes, our team fought hard under some difficult (COVID) circumstances. Coach Ham’s defense will be much better in the future. We are playing with players recruited by lame duck
        Bud Foster. On offense, hopefully it will me much better once HH gets in game condition.

    1. The one play he pursued on. But, to be fair, Tisdale wasn’t much of an upgrade when he was in there either. They we’re all pretty much playing on their heels the whole game.

  5. I was on record in thinking that this was a loss – thought Sam would pick apart our depleted secondary, which he did. Thought those backs would break some big runs, which they did. I did not think that our D-line and Ashby would be blown out by their O-Line. That surprised me. Was not surprised that Our O was able to score. Have always thought HH to be good and he has a lot of Bryan Randall in him, which is great. I thought he would start.

    With this D, we could lose to anyone, and will lose to Clemson and Miami [dang it]. Got to win the rest.

    Go Hokies. HH is good, Herbert is Good, T. Robinson is good, Tre is good, Mitchell is good. Gallo is good. Conner is good. Ashby is good, Alan T is good. Others have heart.

    1. I agree about the D-line, and linebackers. I thought they did a poor job getting off blocks and tackling, which was surprising given what I thought an exceptional job of getting off blocks and tackling the first two games.

      1. I also thought there were aligned improperly at times. Conner, for example, was aligned so far inside on one of Newsome’s first catches. Newsome simply ran from the LOS to the sideline and Conner had no chance.

  6. Agree Hollifield’s instincts seem to always be wrong no lateral vision and if he is in the right spot there is a good chance he misses. Very few if any stand up tackles. Just seems to roam around behind the line like he’s a gunslinger but with no bullets in his belt.

    1. Excellent analogy! I have been trying to describe how Dax plays and your analogy nails it. I do love his spirit!

  7. The only way we were going to win this game was if he VT offense kept the VT defense off the field. The first 2 “drives” of 3 and outs doomed us and down 21-0 we did what any team does when down that far, we played catch up. It was, statistically a good offensive performance but the timing of the offense finally getting it going put us too far behind.

  8. Because of COVID almost all teams are having very little contact practices. The end result has been some huge scoring numbers everywhere Look at Bama and Ole Miss..

    The VT D was depleted by lack of experience, lack of execution and lack of talent. Dax had a couple of plays where if he had just stood still the runner would have run into him. Instead he was on the other side of Ashby and UNC tackle actually ended up taking three VT defenders out of the play by himself.. The result… two TD runs. Yet, he was in on 10 tackles, but seems to lack any feel for the game.

    In any case, this might have been one of the best O executions under Fuente. BUT, it might be the cause and effect of COVID on UNC’s D too. We’ll see next Saturday nite..


  9. It just seemed everything about the defense was “off”. Tackling, pursuit, fits, gaps, agressive at the point of attack, etc, it just all seemed much different than the last two games, like we were hesitant or lost. It almost seemed to be more a preperation issue, as in they didn’t know where to be, when. There were flashes of dynamic defense for sure but, nothing sustained. Probably just me but, they just didn’t “look” ready to play (mentality intuitive) if that makes sense. They’re a much better defense than what they showed at UNC and I suspect we’ll see that next week. Wonder if it was in part due to the changed coaching dynamic with Ham and a few others back together again for the first time in a game setting. Lots of D variables to account for this week.

  10. I was extremely proud of the way the depleted Hokies kept after it right up until the end of the game. As someone said previously, this team has a lot of character and if they can ever get a full team on the field as well as practice with one, I think we would be extremely competitive. I was, however, upset at the very poor sportsmanship shown on national TV (or even if it was not on TV) by Hollifeld and Chatman at the end of the game. That showed a lack of character and not the image I would think Va Tech would want to project. Not a Carolina fan in any way, but they could have easily scored again at the end.

    1. First off, I am also very proud of this team for fighting back. I turned to my dad when they cut it to 5 and said “I don’t think our defense can stop them, but still proud of the way they battled. 2nd, I really don’t think Hollifields play was all that bad. He barely pushed him and Hollifield got run over all game and the defense lost it for us, so he was pissed, I get it. I’d rather see some fire and anger at loosing vs apathy.

    2. I agree with your comment on the poor sportsmanship at the end. The announcers were talking about the positive character of this team and then Hollifeld and Chatman pulled that crap. Tha game was over and UNC could have scored and rubbed it in. They were taking a knee and trying to kill the game clock.

  11. That 1987 Tulane team that hung 57 on Tech was coached by none other than Mack Brown, and that was the last time Mack Brown beat Tech until yesterday (was the Aflac trivia question during the game).


    1. The 1998 UNC Gator bowl team that beat VT 42-3 was Mack Brown’s team, although he wasn’t coaching in that game. He resigned on Dec 8th to coach Texas. Also Dre Bly played on that team and now coaches the secondary at UNC.

  12. Hooker should have started the game, it’s not even close how much better the offense operates with him in the game.. we have good tailbacks now, we need somebody that can sling the rock. Hooker only averaged one yard less per run than burmeister too. For that little bit of a difference, you have to go with hooker until he proves he shouldn’t be in there.. go Hokies, hopefully we can get a few guys back in secondary and be a one loss team going into Clemson week, Miami showed they ain’t back yet

    1. So why didn’t Fuente start HH? Coaches “know what they are doing”. I don’t think Fuente has ever understood gamers, and HH is a gamer, and just flat better. I think this translates one way in a deficiency in his recruiting evaluations and flare. I wish I didn’t feel this, but I do.

      1. I thought there was a medical reason for not starting HH the first two games? Seems like deja vu doesn’t it?

      2. I disagree that Fuentes doesn’t understand “gamers”. From his post game comments he and his staff were doing all they could to plug holes with a depleted defense. They were already down 9 defensive players when Conner made it 10 with his ejection. I have to believe it was gut wrenching for those coaches to watch our guys getting beat. We even had a walk-on third stringer playing. I was afraid that he magic would run out when I heard we were down double digit players for another week. I am proud of this team’s character.

      3. It’s okay that you are wrong, Fu knows if HH is a gamer.

        Being a better running game QB isn’t necessarily the difference in yards per carry. It is more about making the correct decisions in an appropriate amount of time to have good run plays.

        My guess is HH was not as ready to start the game.

    2. You are entitled to your opinion, but are CLUELESS when it comes to how to coach a football team. I cannot believe that anyone would think the staff would not play the person they think gives the team the best chance to win. I suspect that they thought the better running QB would allow the team to run the ball more, and keep UNC offense on the sideline. It didn’t work that way, that doesn’t mean that it was a bad decision. When it became obvious they needed to go in another direction, they did, what more do you want? I get the loyalty to HH, but don’t you think the staff has the same feelings about him that the rest of the team does? These coaches are Professionals, does that make them infallible, but it does mean that they have a LOT better information and experience than anyone else posting on this board. Again, your opinion is yours, but I have another one. We got mauled yesterday, but I suspect the outcome would have been similar with Aaron Rodgers behind center! Speaking of which, in his last college game, he lit us up pretty good as well.

      1. Hooker is just as good of a runner, sorry but being able to pass helps you make better running plays, all hooker has ever done is win. 2 state championships in high school, 6-2 last year and both losses were without one or two of our best dbs.. burmeister and willis both transferred for a reason not cause they weren’t getting playing time but because their play was bad, hooker was gonna transfer cause he wasn’t getting his shot, big difference.. your entitled to your opinion, but playing a qb that is in the 30% passing efficiency range doesn’t give us the best chance to run on them, just makes them load the box and dare ya to try to beat man coverage, didn’t work.. hooker gives us the best chance hands down and your entitled to your opinion but I’m pretty sure anybody who really knows the X’s and O’s Knows that too.. I’m sure Fuente didn’t want to throw hendon back in the fire in that kinda game, but that’s what he came to do.

        Go Hokies
        We’ll get em next week, hopefully with deablo and Jenkins back

        1. Great points……even though some Hokies won’t like the criticism.

          I’m trying to be Fu optimistic these 1st 5 games: The 1st two were great wins given circumstance but darn its awfully difficult why you dont start HH this game…..against his homestate team when he is Mr North Carolina in highschool-

          Passed for 6,027 yards and 55 touchdowns and rushed for 2,975 yards with 48 touchdowns … Three-time all-conference selection … Two-time Associated Press All-State team … All-State Player of the Year by NC Preps … Two-time state champion … Named the 2016 championship game MVP after accounting for six TDs … Finished his career as Dudley’s all-time leading passer … Scored more than 1,000 points in basketball and was a three-time All-Metro conference selection.

          Then he comes to Tech and only does the amazing per our own…..

          2019: Saw duty in 11 games (eight starts), completing 99 of 162 passes (61.1%) for 1,555 yards with 13 TDs and only two INTs ….. and the Bio accomplishments continue for 55 lines more.

          Why isnt that guy your automatic starter after 2019 after all he has sacrificed and gave you. Why does Fu create these QB controversies when they arent really there or necessary? He is already generally fickle about being 100% loyal to one Running Back as a rule prior to 2020. Why get your QB room and fanbase confused? We have come to understand the skills and confidence HH brings to our squad when its crunch time in a crunch game…….Burmeister hasn’t earned that respect …..yet. And you cant fool us that you have seen something at practice that we fans haven’t seen because you hardly had time to practice.

          Sometimes Fu and Corn seem to make this harder than it has to be. But haven’t seen this much offensive potential and Running back explosiveness in about a decade…..Go Hokies. Fu just needs to keep winning in living rooms and get that higher caliber talent. Its losing top 4 and 5star talent in Va and out of state that’s separating us from the next level. The Portal shows that clearly and immediately what happens when you get really good 3, 4, and 5star talent.

  13. Good heart to keep fighting – but the losses in the secondary have ZERO to do with the front 7 getting mauled all game by their rushing attack. I fail to see how a safety prevents a DT or DE from getting any pressure or stopping any run.

    They averaged over 11 ypc – essentially got a first down with every single handoff. Disappointing – perhaps duke is duke and NCSU was fools gold since their qb didn’t play versus VT and is 2-0 since versus pitt and Hooville

    1. It’s hard to win big ones like that with a depleted secondary and best QB playing catch-up the second half.. we’ll be ok as long as hooker stays healthy

    2. Yes agree our walk-on safety led the team in tackles. The secondary depletion hurt but no excuse for d-line and linebackers, they were manhandled.

  14. Guys showed a lot of heart. NC is a good football team (man that hurts to say that), and it showed against a defense not close to full strength. I suspect it is a good thing that the toughest part of our schedule is during the last month of the year, when we can get players back, and in game condition. I am really proud of the effort today, and it was evident to all who watched that this team has heart. Go VT!

  15. “In 1973, Alabama had 833 yards in a 77-6 victory.” and I was there for that Alabama home coming under Bear Bryant and learned the lesson of humility. This was before the days of limits on the number of scholarship players. They had three different teams that practiced together and when they rotated I swear it looked like they just substituted each entire team in succession to wear you down. It was a cold day and the bama bench had what looked like jet engine heaters at both ends of the bench while poor VT had some flames from a metal trash can to try to keep their hands warm. We had a tall Don Strock at quarterback and some tall basketball players for receivers, but it seemed like they caught more of our passes than we did. Bear Bryant had tear away jerseys designed so you couldn’t grab their jersey to stop them, you’d just get a fist full of cloth. Then a shirt boy would immediately bring the player a new shirt to put on. Model of efficiency. Every angle calculated for advantage.

    1. Just as a heads up Strock graduated 1972, he did not play in the 1973 game vs Alabama. The game was at Alabama and as you stated they gave us a good but whipping. I was a freshman at the time and remember it well. Did not attend the game but listened on the radio.

    2. It was not Don Strock. It was Eddie Joyce Jr. out of Andrew Lewis high school now called Salem HS. in Salem, Va. I might be wrong but I thought he threw for more yards than anyone did that year against that Bama team?

    3. Wayne Latimer, of the 61 yd FG against FSU, kicked 2 FGs in this game. I got 2 mortgages with his company.

  16. Although very dissapointed in the result, I think this game showed we have a lot of character. UN Cheat is a talented team and it would have been a challenge to beat them with a full team. With both starting safties and starting nickle are out against a good running team, we were never going to stop the run, and that then opened up the passing game. The determination we showed in the comeback was encouraging, and we should have a chance to win against anyone not named Clemson for the rest of the season.

  17. This is a strange year. That was a strange game. Given the circumstances I am not disappointed with the team’s performance. Go Hokies!!

  18. Shootouts are anything but rare; simply look at the games played/being played today. Zero points in the first quarter and the playmakers not being put in a position to make plays was not helpful. Tech has to come out ready to play; today, judging by the first quarter score, they did not do so.

    Hopefully players will be back soon and the hard work will be rewarded with a win. Difficult games remain beginning with next week. Go Hokies.

  19. Great article Will…when you ready Fu’s comments, you begin the realize just how tight our hands were tied during this game. Outside of being blown off the ball, you can begin to understand why it got so bad once UNC broke through our primary defense line/s. Need to get more physical on both the dline and LBs regardless.
    Thanks for everything you do for HokieNation.

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