“We need more passion,” quarterback Joe Dailey said.
The Cavaliers extended their inhospitality in the South’s oldest rivalry to a quarter of a century. Carolina hasn’t won at Virginia since 1981.
John Bunting said, “We had a chance to do something unique up here in light of this very frustrating season. We weren’t good enough.”
Virginia, ranked No. 109 in NCAA total offense, gained 370 yards, while the Tar Heels (1-6, 0-4 ACC) could muster only 182 total yards and just 84 through the air.
UVa freshman quarterback Jameel Sewell confounded the Tar Heels with 55 rushing yards and a touchdown and 17-of-25 passing for 131 yards without an interception.
Tailback Jason Snelling (19 carries, 131 yards, TD) became the seventh ball carrier in as many games to run for 100 or more yards against the Tar Heels this season.
“Defensively, I appreciate the effort the players made,” Bunting said. “I would say that we took a step forward defensively.”
The Tar Heels ran the ball well at times – 127 yards – as McGill led the way with 71 yards and Barrington Edwards added 34.
“We know we can run the ball efficiently,” quarterback Cam Sexton said. “We just never score.”
Dailey replaced an ineffective Sexton at quarterback to start the second half. Sexton completed just 3-of-8 passes for 24 yards, however it was his first action this season without throwing an interception.
The same couldn’t be said for Dailey. He recorded his fifth interception in a little over eight quarters of action this year.
Dailey and Sexton have combined for 13 picks this season.
“The turnovers… We’re not getting enough and we’re giving up too many,” Bunting said. “That margin must be getting really, really ugly at this point in the season [minus-11, last place in the ACC to be exact]. It’s hard to win when you’re in the minus side of that.”
On its second possession of the game, UNC drove 39 yards on nine plays down to the Virginia 20. On a 3rd-and-6, Ronnie McGill collected a screen pass behind the line of scrimmage and was breaking tackles en route to potential first down yardage when UVa cornerback Chris Cook stripped the ball away to end the Tar Heels’ only serious scoring threat of the night.
UNC, which would commit three turnovers leading directly to 17 Virginia points, never sniffed the red zone again.
“The 40-yard line has been like a dadgum barrier for us,” Bunting said.
Virginia (3-5, 2-2) took a 9-0 halftime lead on Chris Gould field goals of 31, 43 and 43 yards.
The Tar Heels return home Oct. 28 to host surprising Wake Forest (6-1, 2-1), which is off this week.