(Thursday, October 29th)
Final Score: North Carolina 20, (14) Virginia Tech 17
Blacksburg, VA (Sports Network) - Casey Barth kicked a 21-yard field goal as the clock expired, as North Carolina took advantage of an untimely fumble to upend 14th-ranked Virginia Tech, 20-17, at Lane Stadium.
Barth kicked two field goals inside the final three minutes, the second made possible by Virginia Tech freshman tailback Ryan Williams' fumble deep in Hokie territory near the two-minute mark. UNC ran Ryan Houston six consecutive times to gain the four, and Barth banged home the game-winner from the right hash to give the Tar Heels (5-3, 1-3 ACC) their first conference win.
T.J. Yates threw for only 131 yards on 18-of-28 attempts but connected on a pair of clutch TD passes to Jheranie Boyd and Greg Little as North Carolina earned its first win over the Hokies since Virginia Tech started ACC play in 2004.
The Tar Heels had dropped from the rankings several weeks back following a winless start to their league schedule. This was the second consecutive Thursday night tilt for UNC, having lost a heart-breaker to Florida State at home last week 30-27.
Tyrod Taylor was 11-of-23 passing for 161 yards and managed to score on a pair of one-yard scores despite rushing nine times for negative eight yards.
Williams had a good game despite the costly fumble, rushing for 96 yards on 23 carries for the Hokies (5-3, 3-2 ACC), who were handed their second straight defeat.
"Right now, there probably isn't any way to lift me up because I feel I took the game away from us," Williams said. "It was on the line. It was in my hands and I fumbled. But I've got to move on and bounce back and help the team succeed in the rest of the games. I can't take it back. I can't change what happened."
Two weeks ago Virginia Tech was the No. 4 team in the country but tumbled down the standings following a 28-23 loss to then No. 19 Georgia Tech on October 17. Hokie nation had a week to stew on the loss with their bye last week and had won five straight over the Tar Heels coming in.
"It's just bad execution," Taylor said. "We didn't take advantage of the opportunities that were given to us. That's something we've got to learn from. I think we kind of beat ourselves tonight."
After Virginia Tech drew within 14-10 just minutes into the fourth quarter, Yates threw an ill-advised pass on the first play of UNC's next series which Rashad Carmichael picked off and stumbled five yards to the Tar Heel five. North Carolina forced a 3rd-and-1, but Taylor bowled over a defender to breach the goal line to give the Hokies their first lead at 17-14.
With nearly 12 minutes to play, UNC buckled down and trudged 78 yards in 16 plays, shaving nine minutes off the clock, to even the game at 17 on a 19-yard Barth boot. Yates' poise was crucial to the drive.
Twice the Tar Heels were levied false start penalties on third down, but Yates came through on both occasions. A 17-yard completion to Zack Pianalto moved the ball across midfield, then a nine-yard pass to Erik Highsmith set up a 4th-and-7 call at the Virginia Tech 36. Undeterred, Yates hit Little for 19 yards and the running game brought the ball to the two for a third-down play. Yates couldn't connect with Little again, though, and the Tar Heels settled for three.
A stingy defensive effort from both sides had the game scoreless midway through the second quarter until the Tar Heels put together a quality 13-play scoring drive that led to the game's first points.
Pinned at their own 16 to begin the trek, Yates converted an early 3rd-and-1 play himself and Little took it down to the Tech 16 on a 23-yard third-down run later in the series. Facing another 3rd down from the 13-yard line, Yates connected with Boyd for a touchdown.
The score left 2:44 on the clock and the Hokies drove down to the UNC 35 but a pair of Taylor incompletions on third and fourth down turned it over and the Tar Heels went into the break up seven.
Virginia Tech took its opening possession of the second half 82 yards to the end zone to tie the game at seven.
Facing 3rd-and-17 from their own 11, Taylor completed a 22-yard pass to Dyrell Roberts to move the chains. Successive completions of 16 and 15 yards moved the ball into enemy territory and the Hokies rode the capable legs of Williams for seven straight plays to reach the one. Taylor faked a handoff to Williams and ran it in on the right side for a 7-7 affair with 6:44 left in the third.
North Carolina came right back, though, as Yates and co. produced their second scoring drive of 84 yards to take the lead back at 14-7. The Tar Heels chipped away again from the 16 and got a big 44-yard run from Shaun Draughn on first down to reach the Tech 17. Three plays later, Yates led Little to the back left corner of the end zone for a 15-yard score with 1:51 to go in the quarter.
David Wilson returned the ensuing kickoff 42 yards to set up the Hokies near midfield and Matt Waldron kicked a 36-yard field goal early in the fourth to bring the hosts within 14-10. Tech was denied an opportunity at tying the game when a holding call wiped out a 20-yard scoring scamper by Williams.
Taylor now has 16 rushing touchdowns for his career, tying him with Michael Vick for the most rushing scores by a Tech quarterback...Draughn led the Tar Heels' ground game with 77 yards on 12 carries. Houston produced 66 yards on 18 touches. Little ended with four catches for 58 yards while Boyd's lone grab went for a score. Pianalto topped all receivers with six receptions totaling 34 yards...Roberts made five grabs for 73 yards for the Hokies, who were outgained 312-256...Virginia Tech was 6-of-15 on third downs while UNC converted on 10-of-19 and won the time of possession 36:14-23:46...Virginia Tech owns a 16-10-6 series advantage over North Carolina.
10/30 01:43:35 ET