Bryce Perkins threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more as Virginia outraced host North Carolina in a 38-31 victory Saturday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.
North Carolina reached the Virginia 6-yard line with less than six minutes to play before incomplete passes on third and fourth downs. The Cavaliers picked up two first downs before a punt gave the Tar Heels, who exhausted their timeouts, possession at their 41 with 1:53 left.
North Carolina reached the Virginia 43 before another failed fourth down.
It was a key result in the Atlantic Coast Conference’s topsy-turvy Coastal Division. Virginia (6-3, 4-2 ACC) won for only the second time in its last five games overall.
The outcome marked the eighth game decided by seven or fewer points for North Carolina (4-5, 3-3).
Perkins threw for 378 yards on 30-for-39 passing and gained 112 rushing yards on 24 carries.
Perkins took off on a 65-yard run on the second play of the second half to put Virginia back on top and it led the rest of the way.
It was the longest career rushing play for Perkins, a senior who made it down the left sideline. It more than doubled the Cavaliers’ first-half rushing total, while it was the longest running play allowed by North Carolina this season.
Perkins capped the next Virginia possession with a 9-yard touchdown pass to tight end Tanner Cowley. Suddenly, the Cavaliers were up 31-17.
Virginia redshirt freshman Grant Misch’s first career reception went for a 6-yard touchdown late in the third quarter.
Still, Sam Howell threw four touchdown passes as North Carolina kept surging back. He was 15-for-29 for 353 yards.
Howell, a freshman who has thrown for multiple touchdowns in every game this season, tossed three touchdown passes to Dyami Brown.
Virginia had five consecutive possessions end with touchdowns until a penalty and sack pushed the Cavaliers out of field goal range early in the fourth quarter.
Perkins ran from 1 yard out for Virginia’s first points late in the first quarter. That play came after the Cavaliers sustained the drive with a fourth-down trick play after setting up in field goal formation.
North Carolina failed on a fourth-down conversion early in the second quarter at the Virginia 20.
Virginia responded by driving 76 yards for Brian Delaney’s 21-yard field goal for a 10-3 advantage.
The Tar Heels used Brown’s 47-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown to pull even at 7:17 of the second quarter.
—Field Level Media