CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) — Bryce Perkins threw for three touchdowns and ran for another and Virginia beat North Carolina 31-21 Saturday.
Perkins ran for 112 yards for the Cavaliers (6-2, 4-1 ACC), who are in first place in the ACC's Coastal Division. They gained bowl eligibility for the second year in a row, a first for the program since it went to four in a row from 2002-05. They also won their third conference game in a row for the first time since 2011.
The loss was the fourth straight for the Tar Heels (1-6, 1-4), and ended their four-game winning streak on Virginia's home field.
On a day when Perkins connected for scores with Joe Reed (27 yards), Hasise Dubois (33) and Evan Butts (16), he also found Olamide Zaccheaus 10 times for 108 yards, allowing Zaccheaus to pass Billy McMullen (210) as the school's career receptions leader with 213.
The Cavaliers led 17-14 at halftime, but Perkins hit Dubois for a 33-yard score early in the third quarter and the defense limited North Carolina to two first downs and 43 yards. Perkins' 16-yard pass to Butts on the first play of the fourth quarter made it 31-14.
Michael Carter scored from a yard out for the Tar Heels with 7:53 to play, but their last possession ended with a fourth-down incompletion as Nathan Elliott struggled against more pressure and the absence of a running game. They gained just 66 yards on the ground.
North Carolina: Elliott had a very effective first half, completing 12 of 16 throws for 132 yards, but the Tar Heels' inability to get a ground game going made things more difficult in the second half. After halftime, Elliott was just 11 for 22 for 139 yards.
Virginia: The Cavaliers defense continues to impress, especially at home. The Tar Heels gained 500 or more yards in their last two games but could never get their ground game going until they were way behind. The Cavaliers made a huge play late in the third quarter when Chris Peace sacked Elliott and he fumbled, Bryce Hall recovering at the UNC 35. Virginia has allowed just four touchdowns in four home games.
North Carolina returns home to face Georgia Tech next Saturday.
Virginia continues its three-game home-stand by hosting Pittsburgh on Friday night.