CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Drake Maye threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more to continue his strong start to the season and North Carolina opened up Atlantic Coast Conference play with a 41-10 victory over Virginia Tech on Saturday.
Maye, a redshirt freshman, was able to consistently throw downfield, with 13 of his 26 completions going for at least 15 yards. He finished with 363 yards, going 26 of 36.
Josh Downs led UNC (4-1, 1-0 ACC) with eight catches and 120 yards, and tight end Bryson Nesbit added 98 receiving yards on four receptions.
Grant Wells completed 16 of 26 passes for 139 yards and ran for a touchdown, but the Hokies (2-3, 1-1) struggled overall against a Tar Heel defense that turned in its best performance of the season.
Linebacker Cedric Gray picked off Wells in the second quarter, which set up a 16-yard touchdown pass by Maye to Antoine Green one play later to give UNC a 21-3 lead, and the Hokies never never got closer than 11 points.
The Tar Heels gave up nearly 500 yards per game in their first four contests, but UNC limited the number of big gainers by Virginia Tech. Wells never got in an extended rhythm, as the Hokies finished with only 273 yards.
Virginia Tech: For the first time this year, Virginia Tech’s defense, which ranked 10th nationally in yards allowed per game, looked vulnerable from start to finish, allowing UNC to record 527 yards of offense. That’s not good news for first-year coach Brent Pry’s team as it prepares to face ranked opponents in two of its next three games.
North Carolina: Maye continues to look more assured than most first-year starters, and UNC’s offense has hardly skipped a beat so far without Sam Howell, now in the NFL. But as impressive as Maye was, Tar Heel coach Mack Brown might be most encouraged by his defense matching the offense’s big day.
Virginia Tech: The Hokies remain on the road with a trip to No. 24 Pittsburgh on Saturday.
UNC: The Tar Heels will visit Miami on Saturday.