7-1, 4-0. That is UNC’s record on the season. Like most weeks, it wasn’t pretty, but UNC put together one of the best games that they’ve played all season in order to beat the Pittsburgh Panthers 42-24. UNC knew coming into the game that they had to stop the run, or at the very least contain it. Israel Abanikanda ran for 127 yards and 3 TDs, but the rest of the team had just 4 total rushing yards.
Early in the game, it looked like Pitt was going to run the Heels out of their own stadium. Pitt put together an 8-play 77-yard TD drive to open the game and then the Heels went 3 and out. The UNC defense toughened up, and Pitt punted the ball right back to the Heels, who went right down the field and scored on an incredible one-handed TD catch by Antione Green.
UNC struggled to stop a single route ran by the Pitt receivers, the Deep In. Pitt had two big plays of over 40 yards in the first half. Pitt took a 17-7 lead midway through the second quarter. But Drake Maye did what he does best, leading UNC down the field and tossing a one-yard TD to Kobe Paysour. UNC only allowed 29 rushing yards on 11 attempts in the second quarter.
Early second half was very worrying for the UNC fans at Kenan Stadium. In the first half, UNC started slow, punting the ball to Pitt on the opening possession of the second half, Pitt took it right down the field and scored on a 22-yard run by Abanikanda, his third TD of the night. Pitt would not score again. Drake Maye came to life using both his arm and his legs, tossing TDs to Josh Downs and Antione Green to put UNC in command in the fourth quarter.
Drake Maye finished with another incredible game, 33-44, a career-high 388 yards, and 5 TDs, he also lead UNC in rushing with 14 attempts for 61 yards. He now leads UNC in total rushing on the season with 431 rushing yards. Antoine Green and Josh Downs were his favorite targets as they combined for 21 catches for 282 yards and 4 TDs. Defensively, Cedrick Gray led the charge with 9 tackles, 1 TFL, and a forced fumble. Noah Taylor left the game in the first quarter with a knee injury and did not return.
UNC took care of business on Saturday against a less talented and outmatched Pitt team. They will play 3-5 Virginia this upcoming Saturday hunting for their 5th straight win. The Heels haven't looked pretty so far this season but I'll take ugly with a win any day.