North Carolina 34, Georgia Tech 13
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP)—Jacque Lewis rushed for a career-high 161 yards and two touchdowns, while North Carolina’s beleaguered defense was surprisingly stingy in a 34-13 victory over Georgia Tech on Saturday.
Darian Durant had a 41-yard touchdown pass to Adarius Bowman for the Tar Heels (2-1, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference), who rushed for 284 yards and found plenty of holes in Georgia Tech’s defense.
It was the Tar Heels’ first win against the Yellow Jackets (2-1, 1-1) since 1997.
North Carolina was coming off a humbling 56-24 loss at Virginia, during which the Cavaliers gained 549 yards and didn’t have to punt until the fourth quarter.
The Tar Heels performed far better against the Yellow Jackets, who were coming in with momentum after a stunning last-minute win at Clemson. North Carolina held Georgia Tech without a touchdown in the first half—the first time the Tar Heels’ defense kept a team out of the end zone for a half in two years—and made the Yellow Jackets work for everything.
In addition, the Tar Heels, who hadn’t intercepted a pass in almost a year, picked off Reggie Ball three times and forced two fumbles. On the game’s final play, Hilee Taylor stripped Ball on a sack and returned the fumble for a 21-yard touchdown.
That was more than enough help for the Tar Heels’ offense, which scored TDs on all three of its third-quarter possessions to turn a 7-6 halftime lead into a 15-point bulge. North Carolina had 201 total yards in the period.
Lewis was key in that effort, rushing for 85 yards on just seven carries. He had a 40-yard run on the Tar Heels’ first possession of the quarter, and later bulled his way forward for a 1-yard score and a 14-6 lead.
Then, after the Tar Heels forced a second straight three-and-out, Lewis had a 34-yard run down the left sideline and a 5-yard TD run for a 21-6 lead.
Though Ball connected with Levon Thomas for a 59-yard score on the next possession, the Tar Heels remained in control. Bowman answered with his long TD catch from Durant for a 28-13 lead, and the Yellow Jackets got no closer.
Ball threw for 164 yards and ran for 80 to lead the Yellow Jackets, who played much of the second half without running back P.J. Daniels, who had a strained quadriceps.