As we draw closer to Virginia's ACC opener at No. 21 North Carolina, it’s time to look at one of the more intriguing and fun (at least for UVA fans) storylines heading into the matchup: the all-time series history between these two old rivals.
Virginia and North Carolina have met 125 times in the “South’s Oldest Rivalry”, which dates back to 1892. UVA and UNC have played once every season since 1919 and have only not played each other four times since the year 1900. North Carolina leads the all-time series 63-58-4 and won seven consecutive games from 2010 to 2016.
However, the Hoos have turned the tide in recent history and come into Saturday night’s matchup riding a four-game winning streak over North Carolina. Let’s take a look at how the Cavaliers were able to defeat the Tar Heels in each of their last four matchups.
October 14, 2017: Virginia at North Carolina
Virginia came into this game riding one of the best starts in recent program history. After turning in a 2-10 record in Bronco Mendenhall’s first season in Charlottesville in 2016, UVA made great strides in year two and arrived in Chapel Hill with a 4-1 record on the season. Virginia jumped out to a 10-0 halftime lead, but the Tar Heels responded with a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter to take the lead. Kurt Benkert then found Olamide Zaccheaus for an 81-yard touchdown to give the Hoos the lead for good. Chris Peace sacked UNC quarterback Brandon Harris on UNC’s final drive to seal the 20-14 victory.
Benkert finished with 249 passing yards and two touchdowns and Jordan Ellis ran for a career-high 136 yards.
Quin Blanding led the UVA defense with ten tackles, while Bryce Hall recorded an interception and two pass breakups.
Virginia improved to 5-1 for UVA’s best start since 2007 and snapped a seven-game losing streak against the Tar Heels. The win also helped the Hoos get on their way to becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2011.
October 27, 2018: North Carolina at Virginia
Virginia and North Carolina were in dramatically different positions when the two programs met in North Carolina. UNC was in the midst of a disappointing 2-9 season in what would be Larry Fedora’s final year as Tar Heel head coach. Virginia, on the other hand, was continuing to build momentum towards another bowl appearance and came into the game with a 5-2 record. Despite the differences in record, UNC gave UVA some trouble and trailed the Cavaliers by just three points at halftime. But, behind a masterful performance from Bryce Perkins, who recorded 329 total yards and four total touchdowns, the Hoos pulled away for the 31-21 victory.
Olamide Zaccheaus had 10 receptions for 108 receiving yards and became the all-time leader in career receptions at UVA.
Joe Reed, Hasise Dubois, and Evan Butts each had a receiving touchdown. Juan Thornhill led Virginia with seven total tackles and a pass breakup, while Chris Peace recorded six tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble.
Virginia improved to 6-2 on the season and became bowl eligible in two-consecutive seasons for the first time since 2005.
November 2, 2019: Virginia at North Carolina
The Hoos and the Heels met in an epic primetime showdown in November of 2019. Virginia had a 5-2 record coming into the game and had aspirations to win the ACC Coastal Championship for the first time, but needed a win on the road against a North Carolina team with one of the most explosive offenses in the country in order to keep those hopes alive. With UVA trailing UNC 17-10 late in the first half, Bryce Perkins led a 13-play, 78-yard drive capped off by a six-yard strike to Hasise Dubois to tie the game before halftime. UVA got the ball to start the second half and on the second play of the drive, Perkins scampered down the sideline for a 65-yard touchdown to give Virginia the lead. Perkins threw a pair of touchdowns to UVA’s two tight ends, Tanner Cowley and Grant Misch, to hold off the UNC comeback.
The Virginia defense, led by Charles Snowden (8 tackles) and Noah Taylor (7 tackles), shut down the Tar Heels in a scoreless fourth quarter and UVA went on to win 38-31.
Bryce Perkins’ final statline was ridiculous: 378 passing yards and three passing touchdowns and 112 rushing yards and two rushing touchdowns. Terrell Jana notched a career-high 13 receptions.
Virginia once again clinched bowl-eligibility with the win and, even more importantly, the Hoos picked up a crucial road-victory on their road to winning the ACC Coastal title and making a trip to the 2019 ACC Championship Game.
October 31, 2020: North Carolina at Virginia
Virginia came into the Halloween matchup against No. 15 North Carolina as an eight-point underdog. UNC’s offense was loaded with weapons including Sam Howell, Dyami Brown, Dazz Newsome, Michael Carter, and Javonte Williams. Through a combination of clutch offensive plays, timely defensive stops, and little bit of good fortune, the Wahoos were able to pull off the 44-41 upset and keep its win streak over UNC alive.
UNC punched UVA in the mouth less than 90 seconds in with a 54-yard touchdown pass from Howell to Dyami Brown. Virginia responded with a touchdown on a 23-yard Brennan Armstrong run and then a 71-yard touchdown catch and run by Shane Simpson on a screen pass to give the Hoos the lead.
North Carolina kicked a field goal to tie the game, before Howell hit Khafre Brown for a 76-yard touchdown on a one-play drive to retake the lead in the blink of an eye. Armstrong led the Hoos down the field and found Ra’Shaun Henry for an 18-yard touchdown to tie the game. A UNC fumble on a punt return led to a Keytaon Thompson touchdown run to give the Hoos the lead before halftime.
Virginia put up back-to-back touchdowns to start the second half and suddenly Virginia led 41-20. Wayne Taulapapa scored a two-yard rushing touchdown and then Charles Snowden forced a fumble on UNC’s next drive, which led to a 17-yard touchdown reception by Tony Poljan.
UNC would not go quietly, as Howell connected with Dyami Brown for two more touchdowns to make it a one-score game. Virginia responded with a crucial 15-play drive that lasted over nine minutes in the fourth quarter and ended with a Brian Delaney field goal to extend the Virginia lead to ten points.
UNC took just 1:16 to score again but the Tar Heels never got the ball back, as Keytaon Thompson converted a fourth-down on a fake punt to seal the win for UVA.
Brennan Armstrong finished with 208 passing yards and three touchdowns and added 66 rushing yards and a rushing touchdown. In addition to his 71-yard touchdown reception, Shane Simpson added 70 rushing yards on eight carries.
Nick Jackson led the UVA defense with 13 tackles, a sack, and a forced fumble, while Charles Snowden had ten tackles, four sacks, and a forced fumble.
North Carolina, ranked No. 15 at the time, was the highest-ranked opponent Virginia has defeated since No. 12 Georgia Tech in 2011.
Virginia will look to extend their winning streak in the South’s Oldest Rivalry to five games as the Hoos visit the No. 21 North Carolina Tar Heels on Saturday night.