CHAPEL HILL --- No. 15 North Carolina used some late-bout heroics from multiple wrestlers to secure an 18-14 victory over No. 11 Virginia Tech Friday night at Carmichael Arena. Trailing 15-14 with two matches remaining, freshman Brandon Whitman and redshirt senior Cory Daniel gutted out wins to give the Tar Heels (11-5 3-0 ACC) their first victory over the Hokies since 2008.
Virginia Tech (8-2, 2-1 ACC) got out to an early 3-0 advantage following a decision at 125, but that lead wouldn't last long.
After falling behind early in the bout to No. 12 Korbin Myers, Gary Wayne Harding found another gear and mounted a furious comeback. Having to concede a couple of points via escape to leave time for takedowns, Harding eventually fought all the way back to even. With just 13 seconds remaining at a restart and the score knotted at 8-8, Harding got a four-point near fall as time expired to earn the decision and pull off the upset.
More late-bout drama followed at 141. For much of the match, neither A.C. Headlee or Mitch Moore were able to gain an advantage. As time was expiring, Headlee nearly had a takedown, but it was not awarded and the bout went to sudden victory. It didn't take long in overtime for Headlee to get the takedown he just missed moments earlier and take the decision 4-2.
No. 4 Austin O'Connor was also involved in a close bout that was decided in the final minute. With the score tied at 1-1, O'Connor was awarded a point following an unnecessary roughness penalty on Ryan Blees. Virginia Tech challenged, but the call stood and proved to be the deciding point leading to the third straight decision for the Tar Heels.
Josh McClure stuck with what seemed to be the theme of the dual early on with another late victory, this one also in sudden victory. With the only points of regulation being an escape by each wrestler, McClure got a takedown in the final 10 seconds of sudden victory for the decision to push the Tar Heel lead to 12-3.
Virginia Tech got back on the board for the first time since the first bout as No. 8 Mekhi Lewis earned a major decision at 165. The Hokies followed with a decision at 174 and another major decision at 184 to take a 14-12 lead to set up the dramatic finish.
Whitman picked up his first dual win as a Tar Heel, and it was a big one. Facing No. 7 Tom Sleigh, Whitman used a pair of takedowns to upset the graduate transfer and earn the decision to put Carolina on top 15-14 heading into the final bout.
Daniel secured match for the Tar Heels for the second straight week. The redshirt senior recorded the bout's only takedown with a 90 second remaining in the third period to put him up for good and earn the 18-14 dual win for UNC.
The Tar Heels will return to action next Friday, as they host NC State at 6:30 p.m.
125: Joey Prata (VT) dec. Joe Heilmann (UNC), 2-0 - VT leads 3-0
133: Gary Wayne Harding (UNC) dec. No. 12 Korbin Myers (VT), 12-8 - Tied 3-3
141: A.C. Headlee (UNC) dec. Mitch Moore (VT), 4-2 (SV-1) - UNC leads 6-3
149: No. 4 Austin O'Connor (UNC) dec. Ryan Blees (VT), 2-1 - UNC leads 9-3
157: Josh McClure (UNC) dec. B.C. LaPrade (VT), 3-1 (SV-1) - UNC leads 12-3
165: No. 8 Mekhi Lewis 9 (VT) maj. dec. Sawyer Davidson (UNC),14-4 - UNC leads 12-7
174: No. 7 David McFadden (VT) dec. Devin Kane (UNC), 9-4 - UNC leads 12-10
184: No. 7 Zach Zavatsky (VT) maj. dec. Chip Ness (UNC), 12-4 - VT leads 14-12
197: Brandon Whitman (UNC) dec. No. 7 Tom Sleigh (VT), 7-4 - UNC leads 15-14
285: Cory Daniel (UNC) dec. No. 18 Billy Miller (VT), 3-2 - UNC wins 18-14