CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong threw for a school record 554 yards but it was not enough to offset an even stronger performance by North Carolina’s offense as the Cavaliers (2-1, 0-1) suffered their first loss of the season. The Tar Heels (2-1, 1-1) downed UVA 59-39 on Saturday night at Kenan Stadium to end a four-game losing streak to Virginia.
UNC jumped out to a 21-7 lead during the first quarter behind the passing of quarterback Sam Howell. He connected on scoring strikes of 59, 37 and 75 yards during the opening period. The Tar Heels expanded their lead to 24-7 with 10:47 left in the second quarter on a 36-yard field goal.
That’s when Virginia fought back. The Cavaliers scored 21 unanswered points to take a 28-24 lead at halftime.
UNC outscored the Cavaliers 21-3 in the third quarter and used a strong running game, fueled partially by Howell’s career-high 112 rushing yards, to never let Virginia back in the game. Ty Chandler rushed for 198 yards on 20 carries as North Carolina piled up 392 rushing yards. Howell finished with 307 passing yards that included five touchdown passes. Josh Downs was his favorite target, gathering in eight receptions for 203 yards and two scores.
The Tar Heels finished the game with 699 yards while UVA had 574.
UVA’s Billy Kemp led the Cavaliers with eight catches for 106 yards and two scores while Dontayvion Wicks registered career highs with seven receptions for 183 yards and one score.
“There was basically two different games going on,” Virginia coach Bronco Mendenhall said. “There was our offense against their defense and I was really impressed with our off performance. But then there was their offense against our defense, and they clearly won that matchup in every way.”
Virginia: The Cavaliers return home to play a cross-divisional league game Friday against Wake Forest, which beat Florida State on Saturday for a 3-0 start.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels play their second league road division game in the opening month of the schedule, visiting Georgia Tech next Saturday.
- Virginia had its four-game winning streak against North Carolina snapped. The Cavaliers are 4-2 against the Tar Heels under Bronco Mendenhall.
- Virginia falls to 66-36-1 all-time in night games and 24-34 in road night games.
- The loss snaps a five-game win streak in ACC openers and is the first ACC opening loss under Mendenhall.
- Quarterback Brennan Armstrong broke UVA’s single-game passing record with 554 yards breaking Kurt Benkert’s mark of 455 set in 2017 against UConn. He’s the first Cavalier quarterback to throw for 500 yards in a game. He threw for 364 yards in the first half, also a program record.
- Armstrong accounted for 538 yards of total offense breaking the single-game school record set by Bryce Perkins (490 yards) against North Carolina in 2019.
- Armstrong the first UVA quarterback to throw for 300 yards in three-straight games. The 300-yard game was the fourth of his career.
- Armstrong threw four touchdown passes in the contest, the third time he’s thrown for four or more touchdowns in a game. He now has 31 career touchdown passes, the seventh most in UVA history.
- Armstrong moved into 14th place in career total offense at UVA with 4,333 yards, passing Dan Ellis (1997-2000) and Bob Davis (1964-66).
- Armstrong entered UVA’s top-15 in career passing yards with 3,673.
- The 554 yards passing was the most ever by a North Carolina opposing quarterback. Previous high was Dave Brown (Duke) 479 yards in 1989.
- Wide receiver Dontayvion Wicks established career-highs in receptions (7) and yards (183). His 183 yards receiving were the sixth-highest single-game total ever by a UVA receiver. He caught a 40-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter, the second TD reception of 40 or more yards in his career (44 vs. Liberty in 2019).
- Billy Kemp IV caught a team-high eight passes and has now caught a pass in 18-straight games. He finished with a career-high 104 yards receiving, his first 100-yard receiving game of his career. He scored touchdowns of 21 and nine yards, his first two-touchdown game of his career.
- Kemp has 120 career receptions, tied with Germane Crowell (1994-97) for the 14th most in school history.
- Fentrell Cypress recorded his first career interception taking Sam Howell’s pass to the end zone 66 yards. The return was the 11th longest in program history.
- Linebacker Noah Taylor made a career-high 12 tackles, the first double-digit tackle performance of his career.
- Jacob Rodriguez and Malachi Fields each hauled in their first career receptions. Tight end Grant Misch caught his first ball of the season and second of his career.
- Virginia accumulated 500 yards of total offense in all three games this season and five of the last six dating back to last season.