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No. 15 UNC clinches division title with narrow win over Wake Forest

Nov 12, 2022; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA;  North Carolina Tar Heels running back Elijah Green (21) outruns the Wake Forest Demon Deacons defense during the first half at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

Drake Maye threw for three touchdowns and ran for one, but it took a late field goal for No. 15 North Carolina to pull out a 36-34 victory against host Wake Forest on Saturday night in Winston-Salem, N.C.

With the win, the Tar Heels clinched an Atlantic Coast Conference divisional title.

Noah Burnette’s 33-yard field goal with 2:12 to play provided the only points of the fourth quarter.

North Carolina (9-1, 6-0 ACC), which has a six-game winning streak with two regular-season home games remaining, will face Clemson in the ACC championship game Dec. 3 in Charlotte, N.C.

Maye was 31-for-49 for 448 yards, with three touchdown tosses to Josh Downs. Downs made 11 catches for 154 yards.

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman threw four touchdowns passes, with two going to Donavon Greene, but he committed two fourth-quarter turnovers in North Carolina territory. The latter was an interception by Cam’Ron Kelly with 4:20 remaining.

Wake Forest (6-4, 2-4) has lost three games in a row.

The Tar Heels are 6-0 in road games after not winning away from home last year.

North Carolina’s only other divisional title came in 2015, when it lost to Clemson in the championship game.

With the score 34-33, both teams had long drives go for naught. North Carolina went 80 yards but was stopped at the 1-yard line on an incomplete fourth-down pass.

The Demon Deacons marched 91 yards. With about nine minutes to play with a snap at the North Carolina 10, Hartman lost a fumble.

Wake Forest had its first lead of the game when Hartman threw to A.T. Perry for a 32-yard touchdown with 8:35 to play in the third quarter. Maye’s 5-yard run gave North Carolina the lead again before a Hartman-to-Greene play of 60 yards just 61 seconds later made it 34-33, with a two-point conversion failing.

North Carolina scored on its first three possessions and held a 21-7 lead less than 17 minutes into the game. After Hartman’s 7-yard scoring pass to Greene tied things at 21-all, Maye connected with Downs from 20 yards out to send the Heels into the break with a 27-21 edge.

–Field Level Media