Thursday, December 28, 2023

West Virginia Tops Tar Heels in Mayo Bowl

CHARLOTTE – In a stadium that looked like Morgantown South, the West Virginia Mountaineers gave their dedicated fans a resounding 30-10 victory at the Duke’s Mayo Bowl on Wednesday night at Bank of America Stadium. Game MVP Garrett Greene led his team in rushing and passing as the Mountaineers improved to 9-4 on the season.

The Mountaineers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard as Greene hit a streaking Traylon Ray down the sideline on the game's first play. The freshman wide receiver raced past Tar Heel defenders for a seventy-five-yard touchdown. Just as the Tar Heels offense looked poised to even the score, West Virginia safety Aubrey Burks picked off an errant pass in the end zone, giving the ball back to the Mountaineers.

The Tar Heels finally got on the scoreboard with a Noah Burnette field goal halfway through the second quarter. The rest of the quarter was a rollercoaster of emotions for both teams. West Virginia extended their lead with a 78-yard punt return touchdown by Beanie Bishop Jr., only for the Tar Heels to respond with a 16-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Conner Harrell to JJ Jones. However, West Virginia closed out the half with a field goal, heading into the locker room with a 17-10 lead.

The second half witnessed a continuation of West Virginia’s dominance. Kicker Michael Hayes added two more field goals, further solidifying the Mountaineers’ lead. Running back Jaheim White’s eleven-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter served as the final blow, sealing West Virginia’s decisive victory, and began a chorus of “Country Roads” by the thousands of Mountaineer faithful who had made the trip south. The postgame "Mayo Dump" had an equally raucous cheer.

Although the stat line was close, with West Virginia gaining 379 total offensive yards compared to North Carolina’s 353, the Mountaineers’ defense recorded two interceptions and consistently disrupted the Tar Heels’ offensive plays. The limited Tar Heels fans in attendance were left stunned, wondering how a season that began with so much promise ended with three straight losses and a bowl loss for the fourth season in a row.