Walker snags 3 TD catches to help No. 12 UNC beat No. 25 Miami for 6-0 start
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- — Devontez “Tez” Walker snagged three of Drake Maye's four touchdown passes and No. 12 North Carolina took over after halftime to beat No. 25 Miami 41-31 on Saturday night.
Walker had 132 yards on his six catches in his first start for the Tar Heels (6-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), with that start having been delayed after a long eligibility fight with the NCAA that cost the Kent State transfer the first four games. Omarion Hampton scored two short TDs — one on the ground, one through the air — to go with 197 yards rushing, including a 60-yarder with UNC working on the clock in the fourth quarter with a two-touchdown lead.
Maye threw for 273 yards and overcame early pressure from Miami's defensive front. The Tar Heels trailed 17-14 at the break after a penalty-filled half, but ran off 24 straight points in the third quarter to push ahead for good.
It all helped UNC extend what has been the program’s best start in 26 years.
Tyler Van Dyke threw for 391 yards and four touchdowns for the Hurricanes (4-2, 0-2), with two of those scores going to Xavier Restrepo. Jacolby George and Brashard Smith also had TD catches for Miami.
But a week after a crushing last-second loss to Georgia Tech, Miami struggled badly in the third quarter, both in moving the ball and slowing down the Tar Heels. Miami managed just 32 yards in the third, which included Miami losing a fumble on a low snap and Van Dyke throwing an interception.
Walker got loose on a deep slant over the middle for an 18-yard touchdown grab in the first quarter. He struck again on Maye’s perfectly placed deep ball — flying over the outstretched arm of Jaden Davis — that hit Walker in stride for a 56-yard TD in the opening minutes of the third.
Walker’s third came when Maye hit him for a 34-yarder that had him cutting through the middle of the Miami defense and breaking into the clear for a 28-17 lead.
Miami: The Georgia Tech loss was a disaster, from a late playcalling mistake that coach Mario Cristobal took the blame for to giving up the last-second touchdown. The Hurricanes talked this week about showing the ability to bounce back, and they did that through a first half that had them making UNC's high-powered offense working for yards. But the game got away in the third quarter, and they spent the fourth quarter largely chasing their own improbable comeback.
UNC: The Tar Heels are off to their best start since winning the first eight games in 1997, which was the final year of Mack Brown's first coaching tenure at UNC before leaving for Texas. Last week's blowout of Syracuse was a complete-game performance, while this one showed off the potential of an offense that has finally has Walker fully integrated to go with Hampton's ability to carry the load on the ground. The biggest concern in this one for Brown: 14 penalties for 147 yards.
UNC made its case for top-10 consideration in Sunday's next AP Top 25 release, while Miami seems likely to fall out after barely staying in the poll this week.
Miami: The Hurricanes host Clemson next Saturday.
UNC: The Tar Heels wrap a three-game league homestand by against Virginia next Saturday.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll