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North Carolina beats App State 63-61 after Mountaineers miss back-to-back 2-point attempts in final 31 seconds

North Carolina hung on for a 63-61 win over Appalachian State on Saturday after the Mountaineers failed on consecutive two-point conversions in the final minute of the game.

Let’s start from the beginning. Chase Brice hit Dashaun Davis for a 28-yard TD to pull within a point of the Tar Heels at 56-55 with 31 seconds to go. Instead of going for the game-tying extra point — a decision that didn’t work out well for East Carolina earlier in the day — App State went for two. And they had the perfect play.

Davis went in motion and got wide open. He even turned around and slowed down because he was so open. And that might have cost him. Brice threw the ball just slightly over his head and Davis was unable to make the catch.

The incompletion forced App State to try an onside kick and North Carolina made a tactical error. Instead of simply falling on the ball, Christopher Holliday returned the kick 43 yards for a TD after he recovered it to put the Tar Heels up 63-55.

That return gave App State a chance to have the ball one more time and get a TD and a two-point conversion for the tie. And sure enough, Brice hit Kaedin Robinson on a 26-yard TD with nine seconds left to cut the deficit to two.

But North Carolina’s defense finally got a stop on the game-tying two-point attempt. Davis went in motion again after the snap, the UNC defense forced Brice to keep the ball. He got stopped a yard short of the goal line and the Tar Heels held on to win.

Over 1,200 yards of offense

Neither defense was any good on Saturday. North Carolina had 567 total yards while Appalachian State had 664. Both teams averaged over six yards per carry and Brice and UNC’s Drake Maye combined to throw for 10 touchdowns.

Maye was 24-of-36 passing for 352 yards and four touchdowns while rushing for 76 yards and a TD as well. Brice was 25-of-37 passing for 376 yards and threw six touchdowns.

App State took a 21-7 lead early in the second quarter before North Carolina scored 34 consecutive points to take a 20-point lead at the end of the third quarter. The fourth quarter was frenetic. Appalachian State was down 49-35 with less than 10 minutes to go before tying the game at 49-49 with four minutes left. The final four minutes then featured four touchdowns and the Mountaineers scored 40 points in the final period.

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) celebrates a touchdown with wide receiver J.J. Jones (5) during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against the Appalachian State, Saturday Sept. 3, 2022, in Boone, N.C. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)
North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) had five total TDs vs. Appalachian State. (AP Photo/Reinhold Matay)