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West Virginia’s defense stuffs North Carolina in Mayo Bowl

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Lee Kpogba’s 12 tackles led the West Virginia defense as the Mountaineers defeated North Carolina 30-10 in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Wednesday evening in Charlotte, N.C.

The Tar Heels came into the game averaging 36.6 points per contest, good for 16th in the FBS. West Virginia (9-4) sacked North Carolina quarterback Conner Harrell seven times.

WVU quarterback Garrett Greene was 11-of-22 passing for 204 yards and a touchdown. He also led the Mountaineers with 75 yards rushing.

North Carolina (8-5) lost for the fifth time in its past seven games. Harrell was 18-of-27 passing for 199 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

Neither team could generate much offense in the third quarter, but UNC’s best drive ended in an interception. Michael Hayes later gave West Virginia a 20-10 lead with a 34-yard field goal with 2:40 left in the quarter.

After forcing a North Carolina punt, the Mountaineers went 78 yards in two plays to open a three-score advantage. Jahiem White ran to the end zone from 11 yards out to give West Virginia a 27-10 lead with 12:48 left in the game. Greene opened the drive with a 48-yard run.

Hayes then connected on a 29-yard field goal to give WVU its final points.

West Virginia jumped out to a 7-0 lead on the first play from scrimmage. Greene found Traylon Ray behind the secondary and Ray ran untouched to the end zone for a 75-yard TD.

Both teams soon had drives ended by turnovers. Harrell threw an interception in the end zone to stop North Carolina’s second drive. On the Mountaineers’ ensuing possession, DJ Oliver rushed for a first down on third-and-1 and fumbled, with UNC securing the loose ball.

Harrell again moved North Carolina down the field. But a false start on fourth-and-1 at the West Virginia 6-yard line kept the Tar Heels from attempting to punch it in. UNC settled for a 28-yard field goal by Noah Burnette.

Another big play extended the lead for West Virginia. Beanie Bishop Jr. grabbed a line-drive punt on his own 22-yard line and raced up the left sideline before cutting across the field around midfield. He wound up going 78 yards for a score that put the Mountaineers up 14-3.

Harrell found J.J. Jones for a 16-yard touchdown with 27 seconds left in the first half to draw UNC within 14-10, but Hayes kicked a 30-yard field goal on the final play of the period to send WVU into the locker room with a 17-10 lead.

–Field Level Media

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