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‘Heels Stomp ‘Hoos

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Photo Courtesy of Jaryd Waegerle, Wahoo Wire

The University of North Carolina did something on Saturday that it hasn’t done in nearly thirty years: it won a football game in Charlottesville.

Led by senior quarterback TJ Yates, the Tarheels embarrassed the Cavaliers in front of a crowd of 50,830 at Scott Stadium, handing the Hoos a 44-10 beating and their third ACC loss in as many games. Yates seemed on key all night, connecting on 17 of 22 passes for 325 yards and three touchdowns, including an 81-yard score to wide-receiver Dwight Jones on the first play of the game.

Without star cornerback Ras-I Dowling, UNC’s receiving corps constantly exposed Virginia’s secondary. Jones, whose seven receptions for 198 yards and two touchdowns marked career highs in all areas, gained more yards in the first half (188) than Virginia did the entire night through the air (184).

However, the story of the night was not necessarily North Carolina’s aerial attack, but rather Virginia’s lack thereof. Wahoo starter Marc Verica, who has been under constant fire ever since his shaky 2008 campaign, looked out of sync and uncomfortable last night, throwing three interceptions, one of which was returned by Carolina’s Kevin Reddick for a 22 yard touchdown.

Perhaps the brightest moment of the game came in the third quarter when Head Coach Mike London decided to sit Verica in favor of inexperienced redshirt-freshman Ross Matheny. Met by a host of loud cheers, Matheny, however, followed in the footsteps of his predecessor, throwing only one pass, which he completed…to UNC’s defense. He, too, was soon replaced by freshman Michael Rocco, the team’s third-string quarterback, who also threw an interception before all was said and done.

“Getting pulled in the third quarter of a game, I wouldn’t say that’s exactly a secure, stable job,” Verica remarked following the game. “I’m prepared to deal with whatever I have to deal with.”

“I understand coach London has a decision to make now. I’ll support whatever he decides to do. If I’m the starter, I’ll keep preparing hard. If I’m not, I’ll be the best supporter on the sideline I can be.”

The silver-lining for Virginia on the night was revitalized running back Keith Payne, who rushed for 107 yards and the team’s lone touchdown, marking the second time he’s passed the century mark this season. At 6-3, 255, Payne literally powered through the Tarheel’s defense, carrying piles and ripping off a career long 49 yard run.

Virginia (2-4, 0-3 ACC) continues its three-game homestand next Saturday when it hosts Eastern Michigan (1-6, 1-3 MAC) for a 6:00 PM kickoff.

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