North Carolina ends 8-game losing streak in Atlanta with 38-31 win over Georgia Tech

Quarterback Marquise Williams (12) had 152 yards rushing, 134 yards passing, and 37 yards receiving on Saturday.

Jason Getz/Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

After falling behind 21-0 with 4:34 remaining in the first half, the North Carolina Tar Heels showed very little promise in being able to snap an eight-game, 17-year losing streak in Atlanta against the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets.

Thirty-eight points later, North Carolina (4-1, 1-0 ACC) had pulled off an improbable comeback to finally put away a losing streak that has haunted the Tar Heels every other year in ACC Coastal Division play.

"This was a tremendous team win today," North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said. "Our team never panicked when we were down 21-0. There was no streak with these guys. They had never lost in Atlanta. The 2015 team has only been here one time, so that’s the way we looked at it, and they got the job done. I’m really proud of everything they did today."

It was North Carolina’s first win in Atlanta since the 1997 season when Mack Brown led the Tar Heels to the No. 6 spot nationally in the final AP Poll.

The win against the Yellow Jackets places the Tar Heels in good position in the ACC with an opening conference win and three straight victories after a close defeat against South Carolina in Week 1. UNC took care of the preseason division favorites in Georgia Tech, and it will have its annual shot at the new favorite — the rival Duke Blue Devils — next month at home.

After receiving criticism last week due to a stellar performance by backup Mitch Trubisky against Delaware, quarterback Marquise Williams silenced the doubters with an efficient start against the Georgia Tech defense. Williams avoided turnovers, which have plagued him in the past, and he finished the game with 152 yards rushing, 134 yards through the air, 37 yards receiving and three total touchdowns. His 37-yard touchdown catch off of a double-reverse pass from wide receiver.

"[Williams] was a beast today. He took a lot of criticism last week. Everybody questioned him on the outside," Fedora said. "He did what he can do. He came out and played, and he was determined to play well. He did a great job."

With the loss on Saturday, Georgia Tech (2-3, 0-2 ACC) has lost three consecutive games and is on the outside looking in for the ACC Coastal Division. The preseason division favorites have struggled to gather any rhythm offensively after opening wins against Alcorn State and Tulane.

"I feel like I’ve been gut-punched … really disappointed," Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson said. "I thought we had plenty of chances. You have to give them credit. They made plays when they had to and came back and won the game."

North Carolina will have next week off before hosting Wake Forest on October 17th