UNC overcomes early deficit to force OT, but falls short at Pittsburgh


North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell, left, is sacked by Pittsburgh linebacker SirVocea Dennis during the first half of an NCAA college football game Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Keith Srakocic)

PITTSBURGH (WNCN) – North Carolina overcame No. 21 Pittsburgh’s early lead to force overtime, but came up short, 30-23 on Thursday night.

The Panthers ran up a 17-0 advantage by the end of the first quarter and led by three scores heading into halftime.

Kenny Pickett found Lucas Krull for an 11-yard touchdown in overtime to win the game for Pitt.

After falling behind early, Sam Howell and Antoine Green linked up for a 76-yard touchdown to get UNC on the scoreboard, cutting the deficit to 17-7 with 6:24 left in the second quarter. The Panthers came right back, though, and scored less than 2 minutes later to take a 23-7 lead into halftime.

Green nabbed another touchdown pass from Howell — this time for 23 yards — to cut Pitt’s advantage to 23-13 with 5:39 left in the third.

UNC’s defense did its job to keep the Panthers at bay in the second half. The offense got what it needed to tie the game as Howell punched one in to put the Tar Heels within 3, allowing Grayson Atkins’ chip shot to tie the game in the final minute.

Pickett threw for 346 yards, three touchdowns, and an interception. Panther running back Israel Abanikanda had a game-best 63 rushing yards on 12 carries.

Howell finished with 296 yards, two touchdowns, and a pick. UNC’s ground offense only managed 88 yards.

UNC was 6-for-16 on third downs and unsuccessful on all four attempts on fourth down. The Tar Heels were also whistled a dozen times for 105 penalty yards.

The Tar Heels, now 5-5 on the season, will host Wofford at noon on Nov. 20.

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