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June 24, 2024

West Virginia Defense Stifles North Carolina in 30-10 Duke’s Mayo Bowl Win

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Dec 28, 2023

The West Virginia Mountaineers put on a dominant defensive performance to defeat the North Carolina Tar Heels 30-10 in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Wednesday.

Mountaineers’ Defense Sets Tone Early

The Mountaineers defense set the tone from the opening drive, forcing a quick three-and-out [1]. On the next drive, they intercepted North Carolina quarterback Conner Harrell’s first pass attempt to take over deep in Tar Heel territory [2].

West Virginia capitalized on the turnover with a 23-yard field goal to go up 3-0 midway through the first quarter [3]. The Mountaineers defense continued its dominance, sacking Harrell three times and holding North Carolina scoreless in the first half [4].

“Our defense played lights out today,” said West Virginia head coach Neal Brown. “They had the answer for everything North Carolina tried to do and really set the tone for us to get this win.” [5]

Stat West Virginia North Carolina
First Downs 17 15
Total Yards 399 263
Turnovers 1 2
Sacks 4 0

First half team stats [6]

Without star quarterback Drake Maye, the Tar Heels offense struggled mightily. Maye opted out of the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft, leaving UNC without its offensive leader [7]. Backup Harrell was under pressure all game and finished with just 119 passing yards on 10-of-24 attempts [8].

Greene Leads Mountaineers Offense

While the defense controlled the game, West Virginia quarterback Garrett Greene provided enough offense to secure the win. Greene threw for 164 yards and two touchdowns while adding 61 rushing yards [9].

His 25-yard touchdown pass to Sam James II gave the Mountaineers a 17-0 lead going into halftime. In the second half, he connected with running back Justin Johnson Jr. on a 15-yard touchdown to extend the advantage to 24-3 [10].

“Garrett made some big throws for us,” Brown said. “He used his legs when he needed to extend drives. I was proud of the way he led this offense.” [11]

The Mountaineers rushed for 186 yards on 5.1 yards per carry, gashing the Tar Heels defense throughout the game [12]. Running back CJ Donaldson led the way with 104 yards on just 12 carries. [13]

Meanwhile, West Virginia’s defense limited North Carolina to just 38 rushing yards. With no running game, the Tar Heels had no offensive balance and became one-dimensional. [14]

Tar Heels Grab Late Touchdown

North Carolina finally broke through with a touchdown midway through the fourth quarter. Harrell hit receiver Josh Downs on a fourth down conversion and followed that up with a 25 yard strike to Antoine Green. Running back Caleb Hood then punched in a 3-yard touchdown to make it 30-10. [15]

However, it was too little too late. West Virginia’s defense clamped down and secured the blowout victory.

“This was an embarrassing performance,” said North Carolina head coach Mack Brown. “We didn’t do anything well in any phase of the game. West Virginia had a good plan and out-executed us.” [16]

Brown continued: “You have to give them credit, they dominated us. We’ve got a lot of work to do this offseason to fix the problems this game exposed.” [17]

Mountaineers End Season on High Note

The impressive victory wraps up a strong finish for West Virginia after some midseason struggles. The Mountaineers closed out the regular season with critical wins over Oklahoma and Kansas to become bowl eligible at 5-7. [18]

They made the most of the extra game, using it to build momentum going into 2023. [19]

“This was huge for the future of the program,” said Brown. “It’s a great way for our seniors to go out and gives our young guys something to build on going into next season.” [20]

West Virginia finishes 2023 with a 9-5 record after its third consecutive bowl victory. [21]

Meanwhile, North Carolina ends a disappointing season at 9-6. Picked to win the ACC Coastal division in the preseason, the Tar Heels vastly underachieved after opening the year ranked #13 in the AP Poll. [22]

The loss leaves Brown with lots of questions heading into 2024. [23]

“We’ll take a few days off here for the holidays, but then it’s full speed ahead,” he said. “We have a lot to improve on if we want to compete for an ACC championship.” [24]

One area Brown plans to address is solving North Carolina’s bowl struggles. The Tar Heels have now lost three straight bowl games under Brown. [25]

Early Odds for 2024

According to FanDuel, West Virginia opens as a narrow favorite over Pitt in the 2024 Backyard Brawl at -120 odds. The Mountaineers host the Panthers to open next season. [26]

North Carolina faces a tough opener as well, projected as 7.5 point underdogs at Clemson. The Tar Heels will look to avenge this season’s loss to the Tigers. [27]

Early odds have Clemson as massive -650 favorites to win the ACC next season. North Carolina sits at +1200, tied with Miami for fourth best odds in the conference. [28]

With Drake Maye likely gone to the NFL, the Tar Heels offense has major questions. Brown and offensive coordinator Phil Longo will spend the offseason trying to solve those problems. [29]

Meanwhile, West Virginia seems to be trending upwards under Brown. Mountaineers fans hope he can return the program to the top tier of the Big 12. [30]

This Duke’s Mayo Bowl win is certainly a strong building block toward that goal. [31]

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AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

To err is human, but AI does it too. Whilst factual data is used in the production of these articles, the content is written entirely by AI. Double check any facts you intend to rely on with another source.

By AiBot

AiBot scans breaking news and distills multiple news articles into a concise, easy-to-understand summary which reads just like a news story, saving users time while keeping them well-informed.

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