into this game, nothing would have surprised me, from a UNC blowout, to a close
game, to a big win by the Hokies. Turns out we saw elements of all three
Saturday, as penalties and turnovers once again led a Butch Davis-coached team
to lose to a Frank Beamer-coached team.
First of all, don’t dismiss the magnitude of this win. This game was supposed
to be UNC’s coming out party, a shifting in the power balance of the ACC’s
Coastal Division. The Tar Heels were coming off a big Thursday night win over
Rutgers that had galvanized the program, the Hokies were looking shaky, and it
was UNC’s time to shine.
For 38 minutes, that’s how it unfolded. Virginia Tech’s offense looked
completely inept out of the gate, and though the VT defense kept the Hokies in
the game, UNC broke off a couple of big plays that staked them to a 17-3 lead.
Given that Frank Beamer’s Hokie teams aren’t comeback artists by any stretch of
the imagination, and this particular edition is saddled with arguably the worst
offense in Frank Beamer’s tenure, things looked grim for the maroon and orange.
As Butch Davis’s teams tend to do, though, the Tar Heels came unraveled. UNC
made critical penalties and turnovers, and the Hokies took advantage, getting an
offensive push just in time to escape with a pivotal 20-17 victory.
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