The Tar Heels opened their marquee matchup against Notre Dame with a 76-yard touchdown drive to put them up 7-0, and hung with the Irish midway through the second quarter – tying the game at 14 on a touchdown pass from Drake Maye to Josh Downs. Then the Irish rattled of 24 unanswered points on the way to a 45-32 win in Kenan Memorial Stadium.
Notre Dame’s ground-game, led by Audric Estime and Chris Tyree, pounded a struggling Tar Heel defense for 287 total yards. It’s an area head coach Mack Brown admitted the team must improve in.
“Tonight we could not stop the run. They just lined up and hit us in the face,” Brown said after the loss. “They kept running and we couldn’t get them off the field.”
“It’s inconsistent, so we’ve got to keep looking at that,” Mack continued when asked about the issues on the defensive side of the ball, “but you can’t start talking about trends after the fourth game. Let’s talk about it after game twelve and see if we’ve made progress.”
During the offseason the Heels replaced defensive coordinator Jay Bateman with former Auburn head coach Gene Chizik in hopes that he would turn around the unit, much like he did in 2015 and 2016 when he improved the Tar Heels’ defensive national ranking from 120th to 63rd. So far, this year UNC’s defense is ranked 123rd – giving up more than 468 yards per game. Part of that is personnel related and can only be fixed by recruiting better players, but good coaches make the guys they have better. It’s still early in Chizik’s second stint in North Carolina, but if the Tar Heels want to compete for an ACC title in December, their defense is going have to play better.
- North Carolina and Notre Dame met for the 23rd time in a series that began in 1949.
- Notre Dame leads the series 21-2-0.
- Mack Brown is 268-140-1 overall, including a 93-64-1 record in 14 seasons as head
coach of the Tar Heels. Mack Brown is 0-3 all-time against Notre Dame.
- North Carolina has scored 186 points through four games this season, the most since the Tar Heels scored 189 points through the first four games of the 1981 season. The school record for points scored through four games in a season is 207, accomplished in 1914.
- Redshirt freshman Drake Maye completed 17 passes on 32 attempts for 301 yards and five touchdowns. Maye added a career-high 13 rushing attempts for 36 yards.
- Maye’s third quarter strike to Antoine Green tied the 13th-longest passing TD in North Carolina football history First 80+ yard-long TD pass since Sam Howell to Dyami Brown in 2020 for 87 yards against Miami. The 80-yarder was Maye’s longest career completion.
- Maye’s five TD passes tied his career high (also five vs FAMU). It was the third time in four games Maye has thrown at least four touchdown passes.
- Maye has thrown 10 touchdown passes in his two starts at Kenan Stadium this season.
- Maye is the third quarterback in UNC history to throw five or more touchdowns in
multiple games joining Sam Howell (twice) and Bryn Renner (twice).
- Maye and Renner are the only Tar Heels to throw five or more touchdown passes in two games in the same season (Renner in 2012).
- In his first game back after missing two games due to injury, Josh Downs caught five passes for 32 yards and two touchdowns. He tied his career high in touchdowns and moved into 11th on North Carolina’s all-time touchdown reception list with 15.
- Sophomore J.J. Jones caught two passes for a career high 71 yards.
- Senior Antoine Green, playing in his first game this season, caught three passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
- Green tied his career high for TD catches in a game and set a career high with 150
receiving yards (previous high was 117 yards against Georgia State in 2021).
- Green had an 80-yard TD catch in the 3rd quarter, the longest reception of his career. He also added a 64-yard TD reception in the fourth quarter.
- Green averaged 50 yards per catch.
- North Carolina recorded its first first quarter shutout since doing so against Wofford on 11/20/21 at Kenan Stadium.
- True freshman Will Hardy recorded a season-high five tackles
- Junior Cedric Gray led UNC with 13 tackles, his third straight game with 13 or more
- Sophomore Power Echols made a career-high 11 tackles, including his second career sack. His previous career high was 10 against South Carolina (2021) and FAMU (2022).
UNC Scoring Summary:
- Drake Maye completed a 4-yard touchdown pass to Josh Downs, capping off a 12-play, 76-yard opening drive.
- Maye completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to Downs, finishing a 9-play, 76-yard second quarter scoring drive.
- On the first play of a third quarter drive, Maye threw an 80-yard touchdown pass to Antoine Green.
- Freshman Omarion Hampton had a 4-yard receiving touchdown in the fourth quarter to end a 9-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
- Maye’s fifth passing touchdown of the day came on a 64-yard strike to Antoine Green in the fourth quarter. It finished a 7-play, 80-yard drive.