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We're going to try something new here this week with live analysis and observations as North Carolina (3-3, 2-1 ACC) meets Virginia Tech (4-2, 1-2) in Blacksburg.

Coming off an open week, the Tar Heels are in prime position in Coastal Division after playing well in a loss to Clemson, then taking care of business in Atlanta.

Meanwhile, the Hokies have new life since quarterback Hendon Hooker took over the starting job, completing 26 of 47 attempts for 445 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for another 119 yards and a touchdown with wins over Miami and Rhode Island.

With Virginia (4-2, 2-1) and Duke (4-2, 2-1) meeting this afternoon, today sets up as a pivotal day in the Coastal race.

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Enter Sandman

I was worried the entrance might be overhyped after seeing it on TV for so many years, but thankfully, those worries were unfounded.

Incredible to see live for the first time. The press box was shaking, and as the Hokies ran out, very few people weren't jumping.

First quarter

14:12 — Well then. Remember the Carolina offense that came out  on fire vs. Miami? Same deal . The Tar Heels set the tone on the first play of the game, with Sam Howell going deep on a pass attempt for Dyami Brown that was broken up. Two plays later, the Hokies weren't so lucky on a 47-yard TD pass to Dazz Newsome.

Carolina attacking a Hokie secondary that's down Reggie Floyd for the first half.

UNC 7, VIRGINIA TECH 0

??? — We're without a clock here right now thanks to a scoreboard malfunction. Carolina couldn't possibly have dreamed of this start after Hendon Hooker fumbles a snap and Jason Strowbridge recovers. Only the Tar Heels' second fumble recovery of the season.

10:47 — Noah Ruggles connects on a 26-yard FG.

UNC 10, VIRGINIA TECH 0

7:21 — The Carolina defensive front is dominating the line right now and Jay Bateman is bringing pressure from everywhere. Hooker will have to make some plays with his legs.

:02 — Tough way for the Tar Heels to end the quarter as Hooker hits Tre Turner for a 55-yard TD. Both are players Carolina recruited from Greensboro. Badly blown coverage.

End 1Q — The Tar Heels pretty well dominated the quarter, but with one huge mistake, the Hokies only trail by a field goal. Being up 17-0 here vs. just 10-7 is  the difference and a great team and where Carolina is with inconsistency right now.

UNC 10, VIRGINIA TECH 7

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Second quarter 

12:58 — Antonio Williams last had a carry vs. Clemson (1, 1 yard). Went for 17 on his first try today and 5 on a third-down draw. Might get a chance today with some protection issues popping up. 

9:30 — After a career-best 2 catches for 29 yards vs. Georgia Tech last time out, Garrett Walston has 2 catches for 20 yards today. Big, sure-handed target for Sam Howell.

6:55 — After a few drops vs. Georgia Tech, Newsome has come back with a really nice game today, catching everything thrown his way. He's got 4 catches for 75 yards and 2 TD, including an acrobatic leap on that one.

UNC 17, VIRGINIA TECH 7 

3:29 — Hokies march 75 yards in 3:26 to score. A couple nice plays by Hooker,but the Tar Heels did a few favors with a bad pas interference penalty and allowing James Mitchell to get loose for a 20-yard gain to the goal line.

UNC 17, VIRGINIA TECH 14

3:40 — Another QB pressure leads to to Ed Montilus getting replaced by Josh Ezedu at left guard. 

2:58 — Big drive coming up after UNC goes three and out. Hokies take over at their 36.

:19 — Virginia Tech picks on freshman CB Storm Duck and Damon Hazelton brings down an 11-yard TD on a jump ball. 

VIRGINIA TECH 21, UNC 17

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Halftime Analysis

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  • Carolina has crossed into Virginia Tech territory and has just 17 points to show for it. A field goal from the 9-yard line and punts from the 43 and 40 are missed opportunities the Tar Heels can't afford, and they quickly found out why.
  • The defense is clearly missing Trey Morrison today. The even tougher part of the banged up secondary is that Myles Dorn has made a few mistakes in coverage. Carolina needs more from the lone senior in an inexperienced group.
  • Not only do the Tar Heels have six penalties for 49 yards, they've been costly, wiping out a big run and extending a Virginia Tech drive. Carolina had been trending in the right direction on flags.
  • Michael Carter is having a great game with 86 yards on eight carries, and every time he's gotten the ball to the outside, he's looked like a threat to score. 
  • Dazz Newsome has made easy catches and tough catches, with four for 75 yards and four touchdowns. The point though, is that he's catching the ball . He's the only guy on the field with his type of speed.
  • Carolina will have to protect Sam Howell better to win the game. Since midway through the first quarter, he's been running for his life. When he's had time, he's been excellent, completing 11 of 24 attempts for 159 yards and two touchdowns. 
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Third Quarter

9:27 — Howell gets time to throw, Howell delivers. The freshman completed all four of his attempts for 60 yards on Carolina's first drive of the second half, finishing it with a 6-yard TD pass to Toe Groves.

UNC 24, Virginia Tech 21

5:08 — Virginia Tech punts on its second drive of the third quarter and it's very apparent how different the Hokie offense is without Hendon Hooker in there. Carolina isn't having to be nearly as cautious in bringing pressure.

2:00 — The Hokies go to Quincy Patterson at quarterback and Carolina forces  and recovers its second fumble of the day. Quite the turn of events for a team that had recovered one all season.

End 3Q — Strange decision to fake the punt and Virginia Tech will start the fourth quarter with some momentum. 

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Fourth Quarter

9:29 — UNC defense did a lot of bending there as it couldn't stop Quincy Patterson, but Heel dug in deep and held VT to a field goal. We're tied 24-24 with 9:29 to go.

UNC 24, VIRGINIA TECH 24

5:11 — What a play call by Phil Longo. Double reverse back to Sam Howell and Antoine Green was wide open for a 68-yard touchdown. More late heroics for the freshman QB?

UNC 31, VIRGINIA TECH 24

4:31 And Virginia Tech answers immediately as Quincy Patterson breaks a 53-yard run for his first career touchdown. Good timing.

UNC 31, VIRGINIA TECH 31

:45 — Hokies call timeout, likely punting on 4th and 1 from their own 39. Both teams have made critical mistakes in their past two drives.

:02 — UNC punts after a strange series in which the Tar Heels appeared content going to overtime. Virginia Tech kneels, and we're headed to overtime.

End of regulation: UNC 31, VIRGINIA TECH 31

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OVERTIME 

VT possession — Hokies can't get anything going, settle for a FG. Carolina can win with  TD.

VIRGINIA TECH 34, UNC 31

UNC possession —  A promising start ends with an awful turn of events for the Tar Heels and they were forced to settle for a FG. So many missed opportunities today.

VIRGINIA TECH 34, UNC 34

UNC — Beau Corrales hauls in an 8-yard TD catch on a heck of a play by Sam Howell to buy time.

UNC 41, VIRGINIA TECH 34

VT — Gutsy call by the Hokies to tie it up. Greg Ross was left in a tough spot in single coverage vs. Damon Hazelton.

UNC 41, VIRGINIA TECH 41

UNC — a promising drives ends with a missed field goal, because of course. On we go to the fourth overtime!

UNC 41, VIRGINIA TECH 41