The battle of Sam v. Sam or Howell v. Hartman did not disappoint, giving us one of the best games of the year. The highly anticipated game featured a high-scoring shootout throughout with UNC coming out on top with a score of 58-55. The first half had seven lead changes with each team exchanging touchdowns. The No.9 ranked Demon Deacons got on the board first with a field goal followed by a Tar Heel drive capped off with an 18-yard touchdown run by Sam Howell. The old saying “anything you can do I can do better” was on display as Hartman returned the favor with a six-yard touchdown run of his own. The Tar Heels would punt on their next drive leading to an interception by UNC’s Cam’Ron Kelly allowing Sam Howell to flex his running abilities again as he shucked off three, four, maybe five tacklers on his way to a 12-yard touchdown.
The Deacons gave themselves a cushion in the second quarter starting with a 15-yard diving touchdown catch by Jaquarii Roberson in the back corner of the end zone. The Tar Heels answered with a Ty Chandler one-yard touchdown of their own. But the momentum seemed to be swinging Wake Forest’s way after an incredible one-handed 32-yard touchdown grab by A.T. Perry (as he was fending off his defender with his other hand). Later in the half, Sam Hartman continued to flourish, finding Taylor Morin in the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown after a blown coverage from the Tar Heels defense. UNC would add a field goal before the end of the half sending the game to halftime at 31-24 Wake Forest.
Coming out of the locker room, the Tar Heels would add another field goal on their first drive, this one from 23 yards out. On the ensuing drive, Hartman continued to put his all into this game running in another rushing touchdown on a designed 21-yard quarterback draw. Another awful blown coverage by the Tar Heels defense allowed A.T. Perry to streak down the field for a 66-yard score extending the Wake lead to 45-27. The Tar Heels, now facing their largest deficit of the game at 18 points, began to climb back as Sam Howell found Antoine Green for a 29-yard leaping touchdown grab.
After a Wake Forest field goal, we headed to the fourth quarter where despite Sam Hartman’s massive game only one name mattered, Ty Chandler. The fourth quarter began with the Tar Heels in possession on a drive where Chandler broke to the outside and trucked a defender for his second touchdown of the game. Hartman would have one of his few miscues in this game as on their next possession he would throw another interception to his kryptonite, Cam’Ron Kelly. This gave the Tar Heels amazing field position to capitalize on, and Chandler broke off a 21-yard run for his third touchdown of the game-tying the game at 48 apiece. Wake Forest failed to convert on fourth down twice in the final eight minutes of this game resulting in a Tar Heel field goal and the dagger being a monstrous 50-yard touchdown run by who else but Ty Chandler.
Hartman and the Deacons would add another touchdown with 37 seconds remaining, but it was too little too late as the field was swarmed with Carolina Blue. The Deacons’ best start to a season comes to a close on a devastating loss. Hartman may have won the battle of the Sams as he was responsible for all seven of the Deacon touchdowns, five by air and two by ground. But it was Howell’s Heels who still emerged victorious by way of Ty Chandler’s career-high 213 rushing yard 4-touchdown game that sent the Tar faithful into jubilation on the grass at Keenan Stadium.
Other Notable Finals:
Coastal Carolina has lost their starting quarterback Grayson McCall for possibly the rest of the season after he suffered a shoulder injury in their last game against Troy. However, backup Bryce Carpenter was able to power the Chanticleers on to a 28-8 win over Georgia Southern.
No.19 NC State led by Devin Leary’s four touchdown passes was able to muster by the Florida State Seminoles 28-14.
Charlotte staged a crazy comeback in the final minutes of regulation to defeat Rice 31-24 in overtime. Chris Reynolds threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Spencer with 1:15 left and then a 25-yard touchdown pass to Spencer on the first play of overtime to give the 49ers the victory.
The Mountaineers led by cornerback Steven Jones Jr. with three interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns, trounced the Arkansas State Red Wolves 48-14.