CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Sam Howell threw for program records of 550 yards and six touchdowns, and scored the go-ahead rushing TD with 4:11 left to help North Carolina rally past Wake Forest 59-53 on Saturday.
Howell’s 20-yard keeper capped a comeback from 21 down midway through the third quarter for the Tar Heels (6-2, 6-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), tying the program record for biggest comeback in a win. That was part of a run of 35 unanswered points after falling behind 45-24, with Howell and the Tar Heels’ offense rolling nearly all day at a record-setting pace.
UNC finished with a program-record 742 yards, highlighted by huge performances from receivers Dazz Newsome (10 catches for 189 yards) and Dyami Brown (eight catches for 163 yards) as each hauled in two of Howell’s scoring throws.
Javonte Williams added a 15-yard touchdown run with 2:39 left that helped keep UNC in control late.
Sam Hartman threw for a career-best 429 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Demon Deacons (4-3, 3-3), who had their own huge offensive output with 606 yards. Jaquarii Roberson had 12 catches for 167 yards and two scores while Donavon Greene added eight catches for 170 yards and two scores of his own — the second being an 18-yarder that put Wake Forest up by 21 with 6:56 left in the third.
But UNC’s defense hung in and finally slowed the Demon Deacons, forcing punts on the next four drives to give the Howell-led offense an opening. Then, after Howell’s go-ahead keeper, Chazz Surratt sacked Hartman on fourth down to set up Williams’ score that made it a two-possession game.
Hartman led one final scoring drive, but Williams recovered the onside kick with 56 seconds left to all but end a wild afternoon in the longtime instate series.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons entered this one with four straight wins, three coming in ACC play, and just one turnover all season. They looked poised to beat the Tar Heels for the second straight season before coming up empty on five straight drives, while the defense couldn’t take Howell and the Tar Heels out of rhythm as UNC made its move.
UNC: Coach Mack Brown talked this week about wanting to see his team “grow up and mature” and build off a win against Duke without having a setback, which had followed wins against Virginia Tech and North Carolina State. They flirted with another frustrating loss before turning things around.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons travel to instate foe Duke next Saturday.
UNC: The Tar Heels have an open date before hosting No. 2 Notre Dame on Nov. 27.