CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – Mitch Trubisky connected with Bug Howard for a two-yard touchdown pass with two seconds to play as North Carolina rallied from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit for a 37-36 victory over Pittsburgh in a pivotal Coastal Division matchup.
UNC’s defense stiffened as the game wore on, forcing 3-and-outs on three of Pitt’s final four possessions. The Tar Heel offense took advantage, traversing 45 yards in eight plays for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 36-30 with 5:24 to play. UNC’s defense quickly got its offense the ball back, and Trubisky embarked on a final scoring drive that will long be remembered at Kenan Stadium.
The junior quarterback converted three fourth downs - 4th-and-6, 4th-and-6 and 4th-and-9 – in directing a mammoth 17-play, 63-yard scoring drive.
Trubisky completed 35-of-46 passes for 453 yards and five touchdowns in his first ACC game - and win - as a starter.
Senior wide receiver Ryan Switzer caught 16 passes for 208 yards and a touchdown, becoming the sixth player in school history to amass 200 receiving yards in a game and tying the school record for receptions in a game.
Trubisky’s completion streak ended at 30 after the junior quarterback’s deep pass to Mack Hollins fell out of bounds in the final minute of the first half. He completed his first 12 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns after connecting on his final 18 attempts against James Madison last week.
The completion mark shatters the previous multi-game school record of 19 (Bryn Renner, 2011) and ranks second in NCAA FBS history, trailing only East Carolina quarterback Dominique Davis’s 36 consecutive completions set in 2011. Trubisky moved past former California quarterback Aaron Rogers for second place (26, set in 2004) with a 3-yard screen pass to Switzer in the second quarter.
In the first 15 minutes of play, Pittsburgh outgained UNC, 90-11, ran 19 more plays and owned a 13-minute, 54-second differential in time of possession. UNC’s four offensive plays (2.8 ypp) included a safety on its first snap and a fumble by Elijah Hood on its fourth snap. That doesn’t include Ryan Switzer’s 89-yard punt return for touchdown that was called back due to holding. Despite the statistical discrepancies, the Panthers only led, 5-0, to start the second quarter.
Stat of Note
Pittsburgh churned out 281 rushing yards and four touchdowns, continuing UNC's struggles in stopping the run. Quadree Henderson ran for 107 yards on nine carries and James Conner added 66 yards and a touchdown as 10 different Panthers gained at least five yards on the ground.
UNC has allowed 961 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns through four games.
UNC has won back-to-back ACC openers for the first time since the 1996-97 seasons.