North Carolina

Tar Heels blanked 23-0 at Virginia

Twenty-five years without a victory at Virginia.

Five straight seasons without a winning campaign.

The disappointments just keep piling up for hapless North Carolina, which still hasn’t beaten a Division I-A foe in football this year after falling to the Cavaliers 23-0 at Scott Stadium.

Thursday night’s loss was particularly irritating because the Cavaliers (3-5, 2-2 ACC) were having such a lousy year, as well.

Still, UNC (1-6, 0-4) allowed 309 yards through the first three quarters to a team that was averaging only 259.4 per game this season.

It couldn't manage a single point against a team that came in giving up an average of 21.4.

And it gave up 100 first-half rushing yards to a team that was managing only 92 per game.

UNC’s last win at Virginia was in 1981, when it prevailed 17-14. It has now lost 13 in a row in Charlottesville.

Meanwhile, Carolina’s last season above .500 was in 2001 — coach John Bunting’s first year at the helm. With five games remaining, the Tar Heels can dream only of finishing 6-6.

This probably wasn’t the type of game ESPN was hoping for when it scheduled it before the season. It was the first time since 1978 that both teams entered the rivalry with losing records, and it showed.

The Tar Heels’ offense had the ball in Virginia territory three times in the first half but came away with nothing.

On the first occasion, running back Ronnie McGill had the ball stripped on the 21-yard line. The second time, punter David Wooldridge kicked it away after a three-and-out. Finally, a 15-yard sack by Cavs linebacker Antonio Appleby drove quarterback Cam Sexton back into UNC territory and eventually led to a punt.

UNC managed only 70 yards of offense before halftime. Meanwhile, Virginia was downright explosive by comparison, kicking field goals of 31, 43 and 43 yards, and racking up 192 total yards.

After a 3-for-8 performance in the first half, Sexton was replaced by junior Joe Dailey, who started the season at quarterback but hadn’t played since the fourth quarter of the Miami loss.Trailing 9-0, he didn’t fare much better.

With 11:47 left in the third quarter, on a first-and-10 at the UVa 38, Dailey’s flat pass to Brooks Foster was batted back by linebacker Jermaine Dias, and ruled a fumble because officials determined it was a backward pass. The play was reviewed and stood.

Virginia got the ball and eventually scored its first touchdown of the game, with 9:21 left in the third quarter, on an 18-yard run by quarterback Jameel Sewell.

That gave the Cavs a 16-0 advantage. And there was never any sense that the Heels, who had such high expectations just two months ago, ever could catch up.

Especially after Dailey threw an interception to Cavs cornerback Chris Cook with 13:37 left, leading to a 5-yard touchdown run by Jason Snelling. That gave Virginia a 23-0 lead.

Bunting, whose job is in jeopardy despite the three years left on his contract, is now 0-3 at Scott Stadium and 25-42 in his six seasons at Carolina.

BRIEFLY: Tar Heels linebacker Garrett White was benched for the game after making what a UNC official termed an “inappropriate gesture” toward the crowd during pregame warm-ups. Bunting was seen yelling at the player in ESPN replays after the incident. White was on the sidelines in street clothes during the game.

  Comments