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WATCH: No. 21 North Carolina outpaces Virginia in shootout

Sep 11, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell (7) looks to pass in the third quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 11, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell (7) looks to pass in the third quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Howell passed for 307 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 112 yards to lead No. 21 North Carolina to a 59-39 shootout victory over Virginia in Atlantic Coast Conference action Saturday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Josh Downs caught eight receptons for 203 yards and two touchdowns and Ty Chandler rushed for 198 yards and two scores for the Tar Heels (2-1, 1-1 ACC), who never punted and outgained Virginia 699-577.

Brennan Armstrong passed for a school-record 554 yards and four touchdowns for the Cavaliers (2-1, 0-1), who had won the last four meetings. Dontayvion Wicks had seven catches for 183 yards and a TD and Billy Kemp IV added eight grabs for 106 yards and two scores.

After UVA had erased a 17-point deficit in the second quarter to grab a 28-24 halftime lead, the Tar Heels regained control with three touchdown drives in the third quarter.

Howell threw a 5-yard TD to Garrett Walston and Caleb Hood scored on a 5-yard run to put the Tar Heels up 38-28. After a Virginia field goal, Chandler’s 5-yard TD run made it 45-31 with 1:40 left in the third.

Howell’s 3-yard TD pass to Kamari Morales expanded the lead to 52-31 early in the fourth.

Armstrong’s 9-yard TD pass to Kemp and a two-point conversion made it 52-39 with about seven minutes left, but North Carolina capped the scoring with Chandler’s 7-yard run at the 2:57 mark.

The Coastal Division rivals combined for 52 points and 764 yards of offense in an explosive first half.

The Tar Heels scored 21 points on their first eight snaps, with Howell tossing three touchdowns in the first quarter. Downs caught the first two, dashing 59 yards untouched after a short pass for a quick 7-0 lead and then laying out for a spectacular 37-yard catch in the end zone to push it to 14-0.

On North Carolina’s first play after a 1-yard touchdown run by Virginia’s Wayne Taulapapa, Howell hooked up with Khafre Brown for a 75-yard score and a 21-7 lead.

After a field goal put UNC ahead 24-7, Armstrong rallied UVA with three second-quarter TD passes to storm ahead 28-24.

Armstrong launched a 40-yard TD to a diving Wicks, fired a 1-yard scoring strike to Jelani Woods and dropped in a 21-yard touchdown pass to Kemp, the last one just six seconds before halftime. Armstrong had 364 passing yards at the break.

–Field Level Media