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November 9, 2013
Game Changers: Virginia
North Carolina continued its current winning streak Saturday afternoon, as they took care of business against the Virginia Cavaliers with a 45-14 triumph in a game that the Tar Heels led the entire way.
UNC got a well balanced attack from the offense, defense, and special teams in what might be their most impressive all-around win this season.
Virginia came in a depleted and hurt team, having lost six in a row coming into Chapel Hill and the Tar Heels were able to jump on them early and never looked back.
Check out our 'Game Changers' from Saturday as the Tar Heels now move to 4-5 and have evened up their record at 3-3 in the ACC.
They will go on the road next week up to Pittsburgh, as they try to get back to .500 while continuing its late push towards a bowl game.
UNC came in expecting to win against a Virginia team that has struggled throughout the season. UNC did just that, but it is the way that the Tar Heels scored.
They did it in almost every conceivable way against the Cavaliers, as quarterback Marquise Williams threw an 8 yard touchdown to Quinshad Davis, received a 29 yard pass from Davis on a double reverse, and later ran it in for a three yard touchdown in the first half of the game.
Ryan Switzer returned a punt return also for an 85 yard touchdown in the second quarter, finally vanquishing two prior touchdowns earlier in the season that were called back for penalties.
In the third quarter, the Tar Heels added their fifth way of scoring, as freshman Dominique Green scored on a 62 yard interception. Green's interception return marked UNC's final touchdown in the win over the Cavs.
For a team that lost their starting senior quarterback in Bryn Renner earlier in the week, they couldn't have asked for a much better game, as they showed off their diversity on offense and the many ways that the Tar Heels can score.
The Tar Heels scored six different touchdowns on the afternoon and had over 415 total yards against the Cavaliers, something that head coach Larry Fedora must be proud of.
It does really seems like this team is clicking on all cylinders now as they head towards the end of their season.
Third Down Conversions
Earlier in the year the Tar Heels struggled on third down, especially third and long, which stalled many drives for UNC and never allowed the offense to get in rhythm.
Saturday the Tar Heels went 5-of-8 on third down in the first half, helping them build the 21-0 halftime cushion they sat on.
Coming in, UNC was converting a little over 43 percent of third down conversions on the season, something that had to be improved against a depleted team like Virginia.
The Tar Heels converted multiple big-time completions on third and long, as Williams dissected the UVa defense.
By the time the clock ran out, the Tar Heels finished 7-of-15 on third down conversions. But it was the early ones that really keyed them to the decisive victory.
Until the defense shows something that isn't deserving to be on game changers, we will continue to put them in here, as the UNC defense stepped up once again and laid the hammer down on the Cavaliers.
The defense continued to put pressure on both UVa signal-callers and did not allow the rushing game to pick up steam, though the Cavaliers did produce just over 100 rushing yards on the day.
David Watford wasn't able to hurt the Tar Heels much with his legs like N.C. State did last week in the run game, as the UNC front six kept Watford under control for most of the game and intercepted him twice, one returned for a touchdown.
Overall, the UNC defense has played well in only giving up 43 points in the last three games, all wins for the Tar Heels.
If the Heels are to return to a bowl game, the defense will have to continue their solid play in the next three contests, all games that are winnable for North Carolina.
No Balance on Offense for Virginia
As explained earlier in the week, the Cavaliers had to come in with a balanced attack against the Tar Heels to come away with a chance to win in Chapel Hill. That wasn't the case, as the Wahoos didn't get much going in either the passing or ground games.
Much of the yards that were gained were after the Tar Heels were well ahead in the second half, but nothing seemed to mesh for the Cavaliers on offense for much of the time, while its defense couldn't stop the balanced attack from the Tar Heels.
In the end, the Cavaliers gained only 316 total yards, with 204 in the passing game and 112 total yards on the ground, with much of that production coming well after the game's outcome had been decided.
The UNC defense never really allowed Virginia to get in rhythm much of the afternoon, hence why the game was never close to begin with.