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Virginia Tech upsets North Carolina to open 2021 ACC Wheel of Destiny

The Hokie defense dominated Sam Howell and the No. 10 Tar Heels on Friday.

North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell throws a pass as offensive lineman Jordan Tucker holds back Virginia Tech Hokies defensive lineman Jaylen Griffin during the second quarter at Lane Stadium. Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Virginia Tech Hokies suffocated the No. 10 North Carolina Tar Heels on front of a raucous Lane Stadium on Friday, triggering the college football season’s first top-25 upset with a 17-10 win.

This game was a throwback to “Beamer Ball” as Virginia Tech (1-0, 1-0 ACC) only needed two first half touchdowns, a field goal, and plenty of defense to send North Carolina (0-1, 0-1 ACC) back to Chapel Hill with a loss.

Carolina closed as a 5.5 point favorite at DraftKings Sportsbook, with the ending total of 63.5 not ever threatened at any point on the evening. The Tar Heels could not extend drives all night, going an abysmal 2-10 on third downs.

Three interceptions by Tar Heels quarterback and projected NFL first round pick Sam Howell were key, as he finished 17-32 for 208 yards with a touchdown. The Hokies Braxton Burmeister was an efficient 12-19 for 169 yards with a touchdown and an interception, and added 53 yards on nine carries as well.

Sophomore wide receiver Josh Downs was outstanding for UNC with eight catches for 123 yards and the visitor’s only touchdown of the evening. Carolina averaged 5.6 yards per play to just 5.0 for VPI, but the turnovers made the difference.