The Oregon Ducks (10-3) were searching for something in head coach Dan Lanning’s first season to provide an exclamation point. Taking on a nine-win ACC Coastal champion -led by star quarterback Drake Maye- in the North Carolina Tar Heels (9-5) provided just the recipe. But after the Tar Heels went up 27-21 with just 2:29 remaining in the game, the outcome was still very much in doubt.
Enter Oregon Ducks quarterback Bo Nix.
Nix talked about the connection in detail.
“That’s one of our go-to plays, we feel really good about that play (game-winning touchdown pass)…we’ve run it multiple times,” Nix recalled. “And sure enough they brought a house blitz and Chase knows over and over that’s the throw if we get house. He’s gonna get a natural pick going across the middle, and we did a great job of picking up the protection. We threw it over the middle and got a completion for a touchdown.”
On the other side of the field, ACC Offensive Player of the Year Drake Maye got off to a fast start (206 yards passing, 51%, 3 TDs) for the Tar Heels, but the Oregon defense began to combat some of his efforts in the second half.
A big reason?
They stayed in the present.
“I thought our team did a great job of being in the present,” Lanning said after the game. “Our players made great adjustments. Even some of those drives we stalled out…didn’t get a first down, I think our guys believed hey we’re gonna get a stop and get an opportunity to do it again. And that’s what it came down to. You’re talking about phenomenal players making great plays and down the stretch, that’s what you saw.”
UNC's Drake Maye talking on the sidelines with the coaches after a second quarter scoring drive. Maye finished a spectacular freshman campaign with three touchdown passes, but completed just 14-of-35 passes in the contest. The ACC Offensive Player of the Year accounted for 45 touchdowns (38 PASS, 7 RUSH) in 2022.