CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Ryan Willis threw the go-ahead 1-yard touchdown to Dalton Keene with 19 seconds to help Virginia Tech beat North Carolina 22-19 on Saturday night.
The Hokies (4-2, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) were on the verge of going down two scores with about 6 minutes left when they forced Michael Carter into a fumble as he neared the goal line. That started a 98-yard drive, which included a fourth-and-9 conversion, to snatch away a win despite being outplayed most of the way.
"That last drive," Keene said, "was really incredible."
The Tar Heels (1-4, 1-2) outgained the Hokies 522-375 yet committed a dizzying array of mistakes that all but gave the game away.
Carter's fumble stood out, but there was also a dropped wide-open deep ball by Dazz Newsome for what should've been an 85-yard second-quarter score and Nathan Elliott missing a completely-alone Anthony Ratliff-Williams with a bad throw on what should've been a 17-yard TD in the third.
"Give them the credit, they made the plays when they had to and they got it done," UNC coach Larry Fedora said, adding: "We just didn't make enough plays to win the football game. And we had a lot of opportunities."
Virginia Tech: The Hokies continued trends of playing well on the road in the league and regrouping after a loss. Virginia Tech improved to 8-3 in ACC road games under Justin Fuente as well as 9-1 in the game following a loss. And Willis sure came up big in directing the final drive, including throwing a 2-point conversion pass to Damon Hazelton.
Asked about the toughest play of the drive, Willis said: "I don't know. I'm kind of excited, kind of amped up right now."
UNC: This has the potential to be a crushing loss for the Tar Heels. A touchdown from Carter (who had a huge running day with 165 yards on 18 carries) would've had them poised for a second league win after losing by 52 points in last year's meeting. Yet the defense that had ranged from good to terrific all night couldn't get a final stop, and that only piled on to an offense that repeatedly settled for field goals and left points on the field.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies have an open weekend before hosting Georgia Tech on Oct. 25 in a Thursday night game.
UNC: The Tar Heels visit Syracuse next Saturday in a cross-divisional league game, which marks the first meeting between the schools since 2003.