CHAPEL HILL — Drake Maye threw for five touchdowns and Antoine Green had a career night with 180 yards receiving as No. 21 UNC overcame a 10-point deficit in the second half to defeat Pittsburgh 42-24 on Saturday.
The Tar Heels (7-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are 4-0 in league play for the first time since going 8-0 in 2015. Green, a fifth-year senior, hauled in a pair of touchdowns and set career highs in yards receiving and receptions (10).
The loss was Pitt’s second straight, and the Panthers (4-4, 1-3 ACC) are 1-3 in their last four games after starting 3-1.
UNC went down 24-14 early in the third quarter on the third touchdown of the night by Pitt running back Israel Abanikanda before scoring 28 unanswered points.
“I think that’s the toughest game that we’ve had, the most physical game that we’ve won since we’ve been here in 3 1/2 years,” Tar Heels coach Mack Brown said.
North Carolina took its first lead on a 2-yard run by Elijah Green less than a minute into the fourth. On the ensuing Pitt drive, Abanikanda lost a fumble at midfield and the Tar Heels capitalized with a 25-yard touchdown reception by Josh Downs a few plays later to take a two-score lead they didn’t relinquish.
Pitt wideout Jared Wayne had a career-best 161 yards receiving as the Panthers relied on big pass plays to power their strong start. But after going up by 10 on its first drive of the second half, Pitt gained only 60 yards on its final four possessions.
“The fourth quarter wasn’t good enough,” coach Pat Narduzzi said. “We turned the ball over again in the fourth quarter, which started the tumble. It seems like every week we’ve got one of those.”
Maye (34 completions for 388 yards) was efficient again, and the wideout duo of Greene and Downs showed that opposing teams have to account for multiple weapons in UNC’s passing game.
While Green enjoyed a career night, Downs also caught a pair of touchdown passes and finished with 102 yards receiving, his third 100-yard outing of the year.
“Just down in the locker room we were talking about it,” Green said. “He was like, ‘You’re helping me out,’ and I was like, ‘We brothers.’ You know what it is.”
Having entered the AP Top 25 on Oct. 16, the Tar Heels could potentially be the second highest-ranked ACC team when the new poll comes out on Sunday following No. 10 Wake Forest’s 27-point loss to Louisville and No. 16 Syracuse’s 17-point loss to Notre Dame.
The Tar Heels have also created some separation atop the Coastal Division. UNC has a two-game lead over Duke and Miami, both teams the Tar Heels hold head-to-head tiebreakers over.
UNC starts a two-game road swing Saturday at Virginia.