UNC Football: Tar Heels vs Virginia Cavaliers Game Review


The North Carolina Tar Heels faced off with the Virginia Cavaliers tonight as the Tar Heels tried to get over a 68-50 loss to Georgia Tech on Saturday.  The Virginia Cavaliers (4-6, 2-4 ACC) continue their push towards bowl eligibility coming off two consecutive ACC victories against NC State and Miami.

Nov 15, 2012; Charlottesville, VA, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Erik Highsmith (88) runs into the end zone for a touchdown against the Virginia Cavaliers during the first half at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rafael Suanes-US PRESSWIRE

UNC and Virginia traded punts on the first two possessions of the game.  UNC put the first points on the board on an impressive drive 10 play 91 yard drive in 3:23 capped off by a Erik Highsmith nine yard touchdown reception.  Virginia started in zone coverage that allowed quarterback Bryn Renner plenty of time operate in the pocket and drive the team down the field.

After allowing a big 30 yard pass play that put the Cavaliers inside the UNC 25 yard line the Heels defense held strong forcing a field goal attempt and holding onto the lead 7-3.  UNC struck quickly after a first down run by backup QB Marquis Williams, Renner reentered and hit Quinshad Davis who slipped a couple of tackles for a 32 yard gain. Early in the second quarter Davis accounted for six catches for 98 yards. After a pass interference call, UNC handed the ball to AJ Blue who punched it in from five yards out for the Heels second TD of the game.

It looked as if the UNC redzone defense would once again hold strong, on third down Phillip Sims slipped a couple of would be sacks and threw a dangerous pass across the middle of the field for a TD to Darius Jennings pulling Virginia back to within four 14-10.

After two consecutive sacks inside Virginia territory the absence of kicker Casey Barth was felt when UNC missed a 40 yard FG attempt to keep the score at 14-10.  On the first play of Virginias ensuing drive Tre Boston intercepted a Michael Rocco pass and took it 36 yards for the score.  After a failed two point conversion attempt the Heels led by ten 20-10.

Virginia stuck with Rocco on the next possession and after two sacks but Carolina, VA faced a third and 16 and forced a fumble by Rocco when he took off to avoid another sack as pressure collapsed the pocket.  Rocco recovered the fumble and the Cavaliers were forced to punt it back to UNC down ten with 2:20 left in the first half.

After a quick three and out, UNC forced another punt by Virginia and got the ball back with 36 seconds to go.  Virginia avoided Giovani Bernard giving the Heels very good field position at the 43 yard line.  After a failed hail Mary attempt a screen to Bernard for a first down ended the first half with UNC leading 20-10.

The Tar Heels defense did a tremendous job in the first half holding the Cavaliers to just ten points and adding a pick six.

After forcing a three and out punt on the first possession of the first half Bernard fumbled a fair catch setting up the Cavaliers in the red zone and a prime opportunity to carve into UNCs lead.  A huge sack by Sylvester Williams forced a third and 20 forcing a 28 yard FG cutting the lead to seven 20-13 UNC.

Bernard was having a very rough game with only 10 touches through three minutes in the second half he accounted for just 19 yards of offense.  UNCs drive sputtered after just one first down and they were forced to punt it back to Virginia who suddenly owned the momentum.

The UNC defense that did a nice job in the first half began missing tackles and blowing assignments in the second half.  The Cavaliers converted a huge fourth and one inside the Tar Heels 20 yard line to set up a first and goal at the nine yard line.  UNC came up with a big time stop on third and goal and the Cavaliers went for it on fourth down at the two yard line and were denied on a run attempt between the tackles stalling Virginia’s attempt to tie the game.

Bernard started to get going gaining 19 yards on two carries to give the Heels some breathing room after taking over at their own two yard line.  After converting a fourth and two, Renner hooked up with Bernard for a 23 yard TD reception putting the Heels up 27-13 with 11:43 left in the ball game.  Bernards TD capped off an impressive 97 yard drive on 12 plays that took 4:13 off the clock.

After being bailed out on a big third down drop for a sure fire TD, Virginia was forced to punt it back to UNC who drove it 47 yards for a TD on a 20 yard reception by Highsmith for his second score of the game putting UNC up 34-13 with 8:46 to go.  If the game wasn’t over with that score it was sealed up when the ensuing kickoff was fumbled and recovered by the Tar Heels on the 17 yard line.

Marquis Williams entered the game in place of Renner with a 21 point Carolina lead on first and second down.  Renner reentered for a shot at the end zone on third down after the incompletion UNC missed a 35 yard FG attempt only to get another shot after an offside penalty.  The 30 yard attempt was good putting UNC up 37-13.

And that’s how the game would end, the Heels bounced back with a nice performance from their defense, especially in the red zone giving up just 13 points after surrendering 68 last week to Georgia Tech.  Quinshad Davis finished with 15 receptions for 174 yards a freshman record.