Everyone has a soft spot for North Carolina coach Mack Brown. Everyone except for the ACC schedule-maker, it seems.
The first shocker of the college football season happened Friday in Blacksburg, Va, as Virginia Tech upended Brown’s Tar Heels, 17-10.
The finish was in doubt until the final 37 seconds when the Hokies’ Chamarri Conner made a spectacular pick of Sam Howell, who came into the game as one of the Heisman Trophy favorites for 2021.
The pick of Howell was the Hokies’ third. The Hokies menaced the UNC quarterback throughout. He went 17-of-32 with a touchdown pass.
The scene at Lane Stadium was raucous from the start as Virginia Tech entered to Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.”
The Hokies blasted out of the gate, taking a 14-0 lead at halftime on two touchdown passes by Braxton Burmeister.
They would manage three points in the second half but the staunch defense, especially the secondary, was outstanding in leading the team.
Conner wore No. 25 in the victory. It was the third game he earned the digits, which Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente announced in 2016 would be a way to honor Frank Beamer and the legacy of special teams excellence he established.
For the 70-year-old Brown, in his second run as coach of North Carolina, it was a bitter start to a season with huge hopes. His record during this tenure in Chapel Hill falls to 15-11. This was the eighth loss by seven points or less out of those 11 defeats.
In 2020, North Carolina defeated Virginia Tech, 56-45.