— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) October 22, 2023
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Virginia Cavaliers never stopped believing or battling Saturday night, even after their deficit grew to 10 points early in the second half, and they saw their perseverance and resilience rewarded at Kenan Stadium.
UVA held 10th-ranked North Carolina, which came in averaging 37.5 points per game, to three points in the final 24 minutes and rallied for a stunning 31-27 victory. The win, which linebacker James Jackson sealed with interception in the final minute, was the Wahoos’ first-ever on the road against a top-10 opponent.
“This team is full of fighters,” Virginia tailback Mike Hollins said.
Hollins rushed for three touchdowns to lead the Hoos (2-5 overall, 1-2 ACC), who totaled 228 yards on the ground. He nearly had a fourth TD, but Hollins fumbled as he neared the goal line, and the ball bounced through the end zone for a touchback with 4:50 remaining and Virginia up 31-27.
Mike Hollins is a cheat code! 🎮
— ACC Digital Network (@theACCDN) October 22, 2023
That gave the Tar Heels (6-1, 3-1) a reprieve, and they drove to the UVA 20. But the Cavaliers held on fourth down and then used up two minutes (and forced Carolina to burn all three of its timeouts) on a possession that ended with a Daniel Sparks punt.
With 72 seconds remaining, UNC started its final drive at its 25-yard line. The Heels, behind quarterback Drake Maye, an All-America candidate, crossed midfield and reached the Virginia 48. UVA gave up no more ground. On second-and-10, Maye, under pressure from defensive end Paul Akere, let fly a pass that Jackson, a junior, dived to intercept. A video review upheld the call, setting off a celebration that continued in the Cavaliers’ locker room.
“This is a program win,” second-year head coach Tony Elliott told his team, “and not only is it a program win, it’s a catalyst to where we’re going.”
With a balanced attack, Virginia totaled 436 yards on offense. Quarterback Tony Muskett, a graduate transfer from Monmouth, completed 20 of 30 passes for 208 yards and one touchdown, and he rushed 12 times for 66 yards. His favorite target was wide receiver Malik Washington, who caught 12 passes for 115 yards and one TD. On his touchdown, which came with 8:51 left, Washington caught a short pass from Muskett and broke multiple tackles en route to the end zone, and the 14-yard play put the Hoos ahead to stay.
Just can't bring Malik down!!!
Hoos lead No. 10 UNC, 31-27 w/ 8:51 remaining!
— Virginia Football (@UVAFootball) October 22, 2023
“That’s what No. 4 does,” Muskett said of Washington, a graduate transfer from Northwestern.
Perris Jones rushed 14 times for 67 yards, and Hollins added 66 yards on 15 carries. Hollins became the first UVA running back since Wayne Taulapapa in 2019 to run for three TDs in a game.
UP NEXT: A second straight road game awaits the Cavaliers. Virginia (2-5, 1-2) will meet Miami (5-2, 1-2) next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Fla. The game will be televised on the ACC Network.
Miami defeated visiting Clemson 28-20 in two overtimes late Saturday night.
At Scott Stadium last season, the Hurricanes edged the Cavaliers 14-12 in four overtimes. UVA trails in the series, 12-8, but won at Hard Rock Stadium in 2021.
Virginia Team Notes
- The victory was the first over a top-10 opponent on the road in program history. UVA came into the game 0-30 in road games against top-10 opponents.
- Virginia’s last win over a top-10 opponent was on Oct. 15, 2005 against Florida State.
- The win snaps a five-game losing streak against ranked foes and is the first victory for UVA against a top-25 team since defeating North Carolina on Oct. 31, 2020 in Scott Stadium.
- The Cavaliers have won five of the last seven meetings against North Carolina and are 59-65-4 against the Tar Heels all-time. Saturday was the 128th meeting between the two schools, the second-most played rivalry in FBS.
- Virginia rushed for 228 yards, the second-straight 200-yard rushing effort. It marked the first time UVA posted back-to-back 200-yard rushing games since 2021 (GT & at BYU).
- UVA scored on its first drive of the season for the third time in its last five games. The Cavaliers went 51 yards on seven plays in 2:53.
- Malik Washington extended his consecutive games with a reception streak to 32 games.
- Washington scored the go-ahead 14-yard touchdown with 8:51 remaining in the game and finished with 12 catches and 115 yards receiving. The 100-yard receiving effort was Washington’s fifth in seven games this season.
- Washington’s 12 receptions were the most in a game by a Cavalier since Terrell Jana had 13 at North Carolina in 2019.
- Mike Hollins scored UVA’s first three touchdowns, two in the first quarter and his third with 3:56 left in the third quarter. He has six total touchdowns for the season (5 rush, 1 rec) and 13 for his career (12 rush, 1 rec).
- The three touchdowns in a game were the most by a Cavalier since Bryce Perkins scored three against Duke in 2019. The three rushing scores are the most by a UVA running back since Wayne Taulapapa against Florida State in 2019.
- Linebacker James Jackson intercepted a Drake Maye pass with 26 seconds on the clock to seal the victory. Two of the UVA’s three interceptions this season have been by linebackers.
- Jahmeer Carter was credited with his first solo sack of his career, a seven-yard loss that led to a UVA punt and the eventual game-tying field goal in the third quarter.
- Coen King co-led the Cavaliers with eight tackles (all solo) and also added two pass break ups. True freshman Kam Robinson also made eight stops (five solo).
- Dakota Twitty was credited with his first collegiate reception, a seven-yard reception in the second quarter.