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Virginia football tops North Carolina on the road, 20-14

Hoos improve to 5-1 behind a big day from Jordan Ellis.

Virginia v North Carolina Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Say it with me, folks:


The Hoos picked up a 20-14 win on the road against North Carolina to improve to within one victory of bowl game behind the power running of Jordan Ellis. Ellis finished with 136 yards on 27 carries after three straight games of hitting over 90 yards rushing.

Virginia’s offense struggled at times, but UVA quarterback Kurt Benkert finished with 249 yards on 19-for-31 passing and two touchdowns. Olamide Zaccheaus hauled in five receptions for 100 yards, most of which came from a crucial 81-yard touchdown play.

North Carolina’s Michael Carter rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Brandon Harris struggled, going 7-for-18 for just 46 yards and three interceptions.

Virginia put together a short drive to start the game, falling short around midfield and punting to the Heels. A bad miss on special teams led to a big return for UNC, but the Tar Heels went three and out.

Lester Coleman shanked punt after another Virginia drive stalled, giving North Carolina good field position.

The Heels drove to start the second quarter, with a face mask call on Chris Peace on 3rd & 8 extending the drive. Ten plays later, Bryce Hall ended the Tar Heel threat with an interception on the goal line. Hall returned it to the Virginia 40, but the Hoos were unable to make anything happen offensively, punting four plays later.

The Virginia defense stood tall, forcing a three and out, and the Hoos executed an 11-play, 67 yard drive that culminated in an 10 yard touchdown by tight end Evan Butts. The refs initially called Butts down on the one, but replay clearly showed Butts never touched the turf as he used the Carolina defender to roll into the endzone and give the Hoos a 10-0 lead at the half.

Neither team really lit it up offensively in the first half, but Virginia out-gained the Heels 173-75. The Hoos had 13 first downs to just for for UNC, and Virginia won the first half turnover battle 1-0. Kurt Benkert went 13-for-22 for 119 yards and a touchdown in the first half, and Jordan Ellis led the rushing game with 40 yards on 11 carries. On the flip side, UNC’s quarterback Brandon Harris went 3-for-8 for 19 yards and an interception.

UNC got a huge run from Michael Carter to open the second half, rattling off a 56 yard run to put the Heels on the Virginia 11 yard line. Two plays later, Carter capped off the drive with a two yard touchdown run to make the score 10-7.

On their next possession, UNC called the same play, leading to a Carter 47 yard touchdown run and a 14-10 lead.

Virginia’s offense struggled on the ensuing possession (Benkert fumbled it - UVA’s 11th of the season - but Ellis jumped on it), but the defense gave Carolina no room and the Heels gave the ball back to the Hoos.

One play into the drive, Benkert found Zaccheaus, who turned what looked like a short gain into an 81 yard touchdown. On North Carolina’s next possession Harris threw his third pick, this time to Brenton Nelson.

Virginia was able to put points on the board with a 27 yard field goal by AJ Mejia (his second of the day), extending the lead to the final score of 20-14.

It looked as though the Hoos were going to put the game out of reach as they executed a 15 play drive that milked over six-and-a-half minutes off the clock, but a Benkert fumble gave UNC second life. The fumble was Virginia’s 13th of the season, but only the first lost fumble (and it came at a terrrrrible time).

North Carolina was able to march down the field, but Chris Peace got a piece of Harris and got the sack. It appeared as though Peace may have grabbed facemask (he did), but it went uncalled and Virginia was able to take the victory formation and move on to 5-1 (2-0 ACC).

Time to start the party.