UNC QB Drake Maye catalyst in Tar Heels win over App State

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) rushes four yards before being stopped by Appalachian States Kevon Haigler (36) in the first quarter on Saturday September 3, 2022 at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina North

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) rushes four yards before being stopped by Appalachian States Kevon Haigler (36) in the first quarter on Saturday September 3, 2022 at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina North

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Drake Maye — the redshirt freshman quarterback with blue Carolina royal bloodline and rocket arm — might just be damn good.

In Maye’s first-ever start away from home — a true road test against a fine Appalachian State team playing in front of a Boone-record crowd of 40,168 — he established himself as a champion.

Down 21-7 early, Maye led UNC to 34 straight points and an eventual 63-61 shootout win over the Mountaineers. It was the highest-scoring game by combined points in UNC history.

App State provided an electric atmosphere for a wild college football game, but had nothing in its arsenal that could stop Maye, who accounted for five touchdowns (four assists, one rush) and 428 total yards.

Said Maye, shaking her head later: “That game was crazy.”

But App State also performed brilliantly for four monstrously entertaining hours. The Mountaineers, who trailed 41-21 early in the fourth quarter, came back furiously and tied the score at 49-all with four minutes remaining.

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The Appalachian State Student Section shows their support as their team enters the field to warm up before their game against North Carolina on Saturday, September 3, 2022 at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, NC Robert Willett [email protected]

Then Maye and UNC got the ball back. And on a third down where App State brought home, Maye was able to throw the ball to a wide-open DJ Jones for a 42-yard touchdown pass, getting hit hard as he threw it. Maye ended up throwing for 352 yards and rushing for 76 more.

“The game that Drake made at the end of the game?” said North Carolina head coach Mack Brown. “What a game. He’s got a free man (coming to him), he knows he’s going to get shot in the chest and he’s kept his cool…Drake Maye is a special young man.

Maye said of the piece, “I got blasted into the ground and just floated one.”

App State – who shredded the Tar Heel defense for six affected in the fourth quarter – was still not completed. The Mountaineers got another late TD with 0:31 to cut UNC’s lead to 56-55 and then decided to go for two runs.

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Dashaun Davis (17) of Appalachia State can’t fire a pass from quarterback Chase Brice on a two-point conversion attempt to win the game with: 28 seconds left on Saturday, September 3, 2022 at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, NC Robert Willette [email protected]

But App State quarterback Chase Brice couldn’t connect with a wide-open Dashaun Davis as most of the crowd groaned in disbelief. After UNC recovered the kick in play and returned it for a touchdown, the game finally seemed out of reach. Yet that wasn’t the case – Brice threw another TD pass, his sixth, with 0:09 remaining.

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Appalachia State’s Kaedin Robinson (2) reacts after scoring a touchdown on a 26 yard pass from quarterback Chase Brice with 09 seconds left in the game Saturday, Sept. 3, 2022 at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina Robert Willett [email protected]

That meant App State still had to look for two points, trying to send the game into overtime. This time, Brice kept the ball and was tackled a yard from the end zone, and the Tar Heels had survived, 63-61, in regulation time.

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North Carolina’s Noah Taylor (7) and Caiman Rucker (25) stop Appalachia State quarterback Chase Brice on the goal line with 09 seconds left, preventing a two-point conversion and securing the 63-61 victory over North Carolina on Saturday, September 3. 2022 at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, NC Robert Willett [email protected]

Some random stats: App State scored 40 points in the fourth quarter. Yes, 40. UNC scored 22.

And the final score was just one point off one of UNC’s most famous basketball matches – the 63-62 victory over Georgetown in the national title game in 1982.

Will Maye end up becoming the most decorated member of her family to play Chapel Hill? Maybe. Maybe not. It is far too early to know. But he has a chance.

“When you have a great quarterback, you have a chance,” Brown said. “And Drake is a great quarterback, who will only get better.”

Drake Maye is the son of Mark Maye, the former UNC quarterback of the 1980s, and the younger brother of Luke Maye, who made the second most famous shot in basketball history for the Tar Heels en route to the 2017 National Championship.

Maye, who grew up in Huntersville, played most of his high school career at Charlotte’s Myers Park and opted out of Alabama to attend UNC, made a difference in this one. The 6-foot-4½, 220-pound Maye battled all afternoon with Appalachia State quarterback Chase Brice (six touchdowns, 376 passing yards).

Maye made nearly all the big plays he needed to rush for 4 yards on a fourth-and-3 start, throwing three first-half TD passes to three different receivers and scoring on a 12-yard run in the third quarter . Add in a two-point conversion executed by Maye and the rookie accounted for 32 of UNC’s 63 points.

Maye also made mistakes. “Did he mess up some things?” Brown asked. “Yes…. But he has everything.”

Maye fumbled the ball off a quarterback guard up 13 points in the fourth quarter, making the game more interesting than it needed to be. “A game changer,” he said with disgust. He also missed a few shots in the second half.

Going into the game, it looked like Maye was in danger of suffering his first loss as a Tar Heel starter since replacing Sam Howell, who Maye still talks to twice a week. App State scored touchdowns the first three times it had the ball, starting the game the way it ended — gutting the UNC defense.

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North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye (10) rushes for four yards on a fourth-and-three before being stopped by Appalachian States Kevon Haigler (36) in the first quarter on Saturday September 3, 2022 at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, NC Robert Willette [email protected]

But after falling 21-7, the Tar Heels (2-0) got Maye’s second TD pass – a 10-yard strike to Kobe Paysour – which cut App State’s lead to 21- 14. And then, after the Mountaineers missed a field goal from 51 yards, UNC scored again to even the score on a 21-yard TD run from George Pettaway. Meanwhile, the Tar Heels defense was playing better, and Maye got UNC back in the end zone by managing the clock beautifully and pulling a 10-yard rope at Bryson Nesbit with 0:01 left in the first half. -time for his third TD.

By halftime, Maye had already gone 17-for-21 for 224 yards, three touchdowns and zero turnovers. Brice, meanwhile, cooled considerably on a glorious 73-degree day before heating up to a boil in the fourth quarter.

It was the first time UNC had come to the Appalachian state for a football game, and literally the biggest game the Mountaineers had ever hosted. Temporary bleachers have been installed in an end zone to allow what is normally a 30,000 seater stadium more capacity. The school announced the record crowd of 40,168 – about 5,000 more than Boone’s previous record – for the stadium affectionately nicknamed “The Rock”.

“It’s so different from when I was here,” said Brown, who coached for a year at Appalachian State in 1983. “They turned this into a very tough place to play.”

In the secondary market, general admission tickets were around $200 near game time and reserved seats were $300. People parked where they could, created their own spaces, and walked 45 minutes in the crisp mountain air to Kidd Brewer Stadium if necessary. Black and gold overalls were the outfit of choice.

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Appalachian State cheerleaders build excitement ahead of the Mountaineers game against North Carolina on Saturday, September 3, 2022 at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, NC Robert Willett [email protected]

Although App State happily takes on the underdog role in all of its Power Five team matchups, that technically wasn’t true this time around. Bettors have struggled to figure this one out, with both teams being favored at various times over the past three weeks. So it wasn’t at all like the time App State went to Michigan and beat the Wolverines 15 years ago.

This Michigan game was a monstrous upset. This one was a slugfest between two teams that needed to be tied. Indeed, App State was favored by a few points in most of the final betting lines. App State, after all, had already beaten UNC in the teams last game – 34-31 in 2019.

But Maye made sure that wouldn’t happen again.

This story was originally published September 3, 2022 4:15 p.m.

Sports columnist Scott Fowler has written for The Charlotte Observer since 1994. He has authored or co-authored eight books, including four about the Carolina Panthers. Fowler has won 18 National APSE Writing Awards and hosted The Observer’s “Carruth” podcast, which Sports Illustrated named “Podcast of the Year” in 2018. His new podcast and online series is titled ” Sports Legends of the Carolinas” and features one-on-one interviews with NC and SC sports icons.
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