Tar Heels Quietly Looking for the ACC Football Title

Ken Cross

November 15, 2022 at 1:49 pm.

With North Carolina’s 36-34 win over Wake Forest, the Tar Heels are one of the best-kept secrets in college football as they are still ranked No. 13 in this week’s Associated Press poll.

Carolina has already taken over as the ACC representative from the Coastal Division and will face Clemson in the ACC Championship game on Dec. 3.

This week’s “ACC Fab Five” takes a look at five games that were played over the weekend. The ACC teams do not have to win non-conference games but must have been competitive in the contest.


No. 15 North Carolina 36, @Wake Forest 34 –

North Carolina freshman quarterback Drake Maye should be front row and center in Heisman Trophy conversations. He lit up the Deacons’ secondary for 448 yards in completing 31 of 48 passes with three touchdown tosses.

It was a shootout between Maye and Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman, who completed 18 of 31 throws for 320 yards and four touchdowns.

North Carolina wide receiver Josh Downs caught touchdown passes of 12, 20 and seven yards in the first half as the Heels led 27-21 at halftime.

Wake took its first lead with 8:35 left in the third quarter as the Deacons enjoyed a 32-yard touchdown pass from Hartman to A.T. Perry.

The two teams combined for 1,070 yards, while Carolina kicker Noah Burnett hit from 33 yards out with 2:12 remaining to win the game.

“I told the ESPN people at halftime that it was going to be whoever got the ball last and that’s kind of the way it was,” said Tar Heels coach Mack Brown. “It’s funny. We’ve made a living on fourth downs all year and tonight, we had trouble with a couple of fourth downs.”


@Duke 24, Virginia Tech 7 –

Duke quarterback Riley Leonard has turned into a solid challenger as the signal-caller and he was stellar once again as he threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for another in the third quarter to pace the Blue Devils over Virginia Tech.

He hit pay dirt from five yards out which gave Duke a 17-7 lead with 7:55 remaining in the third and pushed the Hokies even further into the cellar of the ACC.

Virginia Tech went ahead first as quarterback Grant Wells found Da’Wain Lofton with a 53-yard touchdown pass just a minute and a half into the game. Leonard tossed his first touchdown pass to Nicky Dalmolin with 6:32 remaining in the first half to give Duke a 10-7 lead at the break.

The Blue Devils had a three-pronged rushing attack as they rushed for 165 yards on 41 carries.

Duke coach Mike Elko has put the fear into Blue Devils football by leading Duke to a 7-3 record and 4-2 in the ACC as Duke finishes at Pitt and home to Wake Forest.

“I thought defensively, we played our best effort of the year,” noted Elko. “I thought the way we controlled the line of scrimmage, the way we responded to the first big pass play … we really controlled the tempo of the game.”


No. 12 @Clemson 31, Louisville 16 –

The Tigers came back from their resounding 35-14 loss at Notre Dame last week in posting 248 yards on the ground to dictate Saturday night’s win.

Clemson led 17-7 at halftime, but Louisville’s sensational quarterback Malik Cunningham was injured on the last play of the first half. Without Cunningham, the second half was a struggle as the Cardinals suffered a fumble and an interception, while they were held on downs twice.

Clemson distanced itself from the Cards with a 25-yard run by Will Shipley and a 39-yard score from Phil Mafah.

Quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei hit wide receiver Antonio Williams 10 times for 83 yards and a touchdown for the Tigers.

“That was a dangerous, dangerous football team that we just beat,” said Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney. “Just proud of them for winning the line of scrimmage – something we didn’t do last week.


Boston College 21, @ No. 17 NC State 20 –

The Eagles took the football 69 yards in 12 plays and quarterback Emmett Moorehead hit Joseph Green, Jr., with a 2-yard touchdown pass with 14 seconds remaining to give Boston College the upset.

NC State outrushed the Eagles, 200 to (-1) as four turnovers turned out to be the undoing for NCSU with all of those miscues coming in the second half.

The Wolfpack picked up a 14-0 first-quarter lead as they scored on their first two drives of the game when MJ Morris hit Trent Pennix with a 27-yard touchdown pass and then Morris scored on a quarterback keeper on a 10-yard run.

This was N.C. State’s third one-point game this season. The Wolfpack beat East Carolina, 21-20, and the ‘Pack also dropped Virginia Tech, 22-21.

“We’re going to learn from it; we’re going to fix those mistakes we made, and we’re going to get better from them,” Morris explained.


Miami 35, @Georgia Tech 14 –

Hurricanes sophomore safety Kam Kinchens picked off three passes, returning one 99 yards for a touchdown as Miami finally was able to put an impressive entry into the ‘W’ column.

Freshman quarterback Jacurri Brown fired three touchdown passes as he hit Will Mallory and Jaleel Skinner on early scoring drives of 11 and 14 plays for a 14-0 lead with 9:26 left in the first half.

The Hurricanes have been a picture of injuries this season as starting quarterback Tyler Van Dyke was out with a shoulder injury and starting running back Henry Parrish, Jr., was sidelined as well with injury.

Jaylan Knighton led the Hurricanes with 118 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown, while Brown tallied 87 yards on 19 carries.

“He’s always finding ways to get better,” Miami head coach Mario Cristobal said of Kinchens. “He’s a positive guy, so nothing is ever going to get him down. I think he’s having a positive impact on his teammates as well. We need more guys like Kam Kinchens.”