Redshirt freshman Drake Maye continued his torrid start to the season, throwing for 352 yards and combining for five touchdowns as North Carolina outlasted Appalachian State 63-61 on Saturday despite surrendering 40 points in the fourth quarter.
Maye, the younger brother of former Tar Heels basketball star Luke Maye, has thrown a school-record nine touchdown passes in two career starts. He also ran for a score against the Mountaineers.
Chase Brice threw for 376 yards and six touchdowns for Appalachian State (0-1).
The two teams combined for 62 points and 504 yards — in the fourth quarter.
With the game tied at 49, Maye lofted a ball over the middle to D.J. Jones for a 42-yard touchdown pass on an all-out blitz by the Mountaineers to give North Carolina (2-0) the lead with 2:50 left in the game.
App State responded with Brice throwing his fifth TD pass of the game, a 28-yard strike to Deshaun Davis with 31 seconds left. The Mountaineers went for the 2-point conversion — and the apparent win — but Brice's pass sailed just over Davis' head.
It seemed the game would end there, but UNC's Bryson Nesbit returned the ensuing onside kick for a 43-yard touchdown — a mistake that gave the Mountaineers 31 seconds to try to score again. Sure enough, Brice found Kaedin Robinson for a 26-yard TD strike with 9 seconds left to cut the lead to 63-61.
The Mountaineers went for 2 but Brice was stopped short of the end zone.
The Tar Heels fell behind 21-7 before rattling off 34 straight points and silencing a record crowd of 40,168 at Kidd Brewer Stadium.
Maye threw three TD passes in the first half, including a 10-yard TD strike to Nesbit to give the Tar Heels a 28-21 lead with 1 second left.
Maye made it 28 straight unanswered points for UNC with a 12-yard touchdown run to start the second half, receiving congrats from former Tar Heels and current Washington Commanders quarterback Sam Howell in the end zone after tiptoeing the sideline.
UNC pushed its lead to 41-21 after two Noah Burnette field goals entering the fourth quarter before the Mountaineers battled back with six touchdowns.
It was the most points ever scored in a UNC game since the school started football in 1888.
WHAT WAS AT STAKE?
In-state bragging rights. Appalachian State defeated North Carolina in 2019 in Chapel Hill, a loss that didn't sit well with Tar Heels fans given the Mountaineers have always been viewed as the little brother. But Appalachian State has repeatedly found itself in the Top 25 since moving up to the FBS and has made its mark in the Sun Belt Conference with four titles. This game has been sold out since July with more than 30,000 fans expected at Kidd Brewer Stadium in Boone, North Carolina. Both schools have high aspirations and received votes in the AP preseason Top 25. A victory here would be a huge momentum boost for the winner.
Appalachian State QB Brice vs. UNC's secondary. Brice, now in his sixth season, threw for a school-record 3,337 yards and 27 touchdowns last season for the Mountaineers, who finished 10-4. He faced a Tar Heels secondary that looked very suspect last week against Florida A&M. UNC allowed unheralded quarterback Jeremy Moussa to complete 28 of 38 passes for 279 yards and two touchdowns. Brice had to find some new weapons after four App State receivers signed NFL contracts this past offseason.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
UNC: WR Josh Downs. The third-year receiver is a threat to take it to the end zone any time he touches the ball. He had nine catches for 78 yards and two scores in last weekend’s Week Zero opener. He ranked 10th in the Bowl Subdivision with 1,335 yards receiving.
Appalachian State RBs Nate Noel and Camerun Peoples. Both backs have had 1,000-yard seasons with Noel doing it last year and Peoples in 2020. The Mountaineers should be strong up front with four of five starters returning on the offensive line.
FACTS & FIGURES
UNC coach Mack Brown was Appalachian State’s head coach in 1983 -- he was 32 years old at the time -- before working as Barry Switzer’s offensive coordinator at Oklahoma in 1984.
Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye became the first player in program history to throw five touchdown passes in a first start.
This is the first of two straight road games against Sun Belt Conference opponents for UNC.
The Tar Heels travel to Georgia State next week.
Appalachian State's last five games vs. Power Five schools have been decided by less than seven points. Appalachian State, Alabama, Clemson and Oklahoma are the only FBS programs with nine-plus wins every year since 2015.
The Mountaineers lost seven defensive starters from last year's team.
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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