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No. 12 UNC holds on to beat Boston College 26-22

By Jimmy Golen, AP Sports Writer

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill safety Trey Morrison stepped in front of the 2-point conversion attempt and saw a path to the other end zone, 99 yards away.

He went for it, and sealed a long-awaited victory for the 12th-ranked Tar Heels.

Morrison intercepted Phil Jurkovec’s pass on the potential game-tying 2-point play and ran it back for a score with 45 seconds left Saturday to help North Carolina beat Boston College 26-22 for its pandemic-delayed second victory of the season.

With the cancellation of one game because of the coronavirus and a scheduled off week leaving North Carolina idle since Sept. 12, the Tar Heels (2-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) sent BC (2-1, 1-1) to its first loss under new coach Jeff Hafley.

Carolina had nine penalties, a missed field goal and a mental error on a kickoff return that led to BC’s first touchdown.

“We were concerned about the three weeks off, and having a sloppy game,” coach Mack Brown said. “And that’s just what happened.”

Sam Howell completed 14 of 26 passes for 225 yards and two touchdowns, including a 41-yard score to Javonte Williams that gave Carolina a 21-13 lead with just over a minute left in the first half. Williams ran for 57 yards and caught two passes for 56, and Michael Carter carried 16 times for 121 yards for the Tar Heels.

North Carolina led 24-16 with just under six minutes left before Jurkovec drove BC into Tar Heels territory and completed three passes in the end zone. The first two were negated by penalties, but a 6-yard pass to C.J. Lewis made it a two-point game with 45 seconds left, with the 2-point conversion to come.

Jurkovec scrambled and threw to the end zone, but Morrison picked him off and ran down the left sideline for the rare defensive 2-point conversion.

“I just saw the ball in the air and I just went to go get it,” Morrison said. “I just caught the ball and I just ran it all the way back.”

A week after rallying to beat Texas State — a three-touchdown underdog — Boston College almost pulled off another comeback for what would have been its first victory over a ranked team since 2014. Just as he did last week, Hafley told his team that it would be up for grabs at the end.

“I told them all week we were going to win it in the fourth, and we were in a position to,” he said. “We just came up short on the two-point conversion.”

Jurkovec completed 37 of 56 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns, hitting tight end Hunter Long nine times for 96 yards. Boston College, which led the ACC in rushing last year behind A.J. Dillon’s third straight 1,000-yard season, totaled just 40 yards rushing.

The Eagles traded field goals for touchdowns most of the game but still had a chance after forcing a 47-yard field goal attempt that Grayson Atkins missed wide to the left with 5:46 to play. Jurkovec connected on a 10-yard pass to Lewis, who was called for offensive pass interference, and later a 22-yard strike to Long that was negated by a holding call.

BREAKING IT OPEN

It was 14-13 with just over a minute left in the first half when Howell scrambled across the BC logo at midfield and — straddling the line of scrimmage — found Williams in the middle. Catching the ball at about the 25, he eluded two tacklers on his way to the end zone. (A replay confirmed Howell’s back leg was behind the line when he threw the ball.)

Again, BC drove deep into Carolina territory, with Jurkovec completing five straight passes at one point. But the Eagles came away with just Aaron Boumerhi’s field goal, a 30-yarder that was his third of the game.

BIG TURNOVER

Falling behind after answering a pair of touchdowns with two field goals, the Eagles got one break when the Tar Heels called for a fair catch on a kickoff that bounced. That left them on their own 4 yard-line.

Two plays later, Jahmin Muse deflected Howell’s pass into the air and Brandon Sebastian fielded it to give BC the ball at the Carolina 5. Three plays after that, Jurkovec hit David Bailey for a score that made it 14-13.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

The Tar Heels should remain ranked for another week.

THE TAKEAWAY

North Carolina: The Tar Heels improved to 6-2 vs. BC, with a 4-0 record in the ACC, but Brown had never faced the Eagles.

Boston College: BC was going for its first 3-0 start since 2007 and just its second in a half century. Instead, Hafley will try to regroup before next week’s game against Pittsburgh.

UP NEXT

North Carolina: After having two weeks off because of the cancellation of the Charlotte game, the Tar Heels return home to play Virginia Tech — the first of six straight games until Thanksgiving.

Boston College: Next week’s game is against a Panthers team that will likely drop out of the Top 25 after losing 30-29 to North Carolina State on Saturday.

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