Drake Maye ran for two touchdowns and threw an unconventional pass for another touchdown as No. 17 North Carolina defeated host Pittsburgh 41-24 on Saturday night.
Maye normally throws right-handed but he added a left-handed toss while draped by a defender as the Tar Heels (4-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) won in their first true road game of the season.
Alijah Huzzie had a first-half punt return for a touchdown and made a second-half interception for North Carolina, which benefited from the Panthers’ three turnovers. The Tar Heels didn’t commit a turnover and were charged with only three penalties.
Pittsburgh (1-3, 0-1) couldn’t keep up despite a kickoff return for a touchdown by Kenny Johnson.
Maye completed 22 of 30 passes for 296 yards. Kicker Noah Burnette had third-quarter field goals from 43 and 48 yards.
Pittsburgh quarterbacks Phil Jurkovec and Christian Veilleux combined for 197 passing yards. Rodney Hammond Jr. gained 83 rushing yards on 14 carries.
The Tar Heels had plenty of highlights in building a 28-17 halftime lead.
Huzzie’s 52-yard punt return for a touchdown gave the Tar Heels their first lead with 7:23 remaining in the first half.
After Ben Sauls’ 44-yard field goal for Pittsburgh, the Tar Heels extended their margin.
Under duress, Maye’s left-handed touchdown pass to Kobe Paysour covered 7 yards and came with one minute left in the first half.
North Carolina opened the second-half scoring with a 75-yard drive ending on Maye’s 1-yard run.
Pitt used almost eight minutes on a game-opening touchdown drive that was capped by Hammond’s 7-yard run.
That began a back-and-forth with the teams trading touchdowns. Omarion Hampton ran 3 yards for North Carolina’s touchdown before Daniel Carter’s 1-yard run for the Panthers.
Maye helped the Tar Heels tie it 14-14 on a fourth-and-1 touchdown run.
North Carolina lost in overtime in its last two visits to Pittsburgh but avoided drama this time.