CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Quarterback Marquise Williams threw two touchdowns passes, caught a touchdown pass and ran for a another score as North Carolina trounced Virginia, 45-14, in a homecoming game Saturday afternoon at Kenan Stadium.
Williams, who was making his first start since a season-ending injury to senior quarterback Bryn Renner, directed the Tar Heels to their third consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference victory.
Williams wore jersey No. 2 (instead of his normal No. 12) in honor of Renner, who made 32 career starts for the Tar Heels and ranks among the school's all-time leaders in several categories.
Renner underwent shoulder surgery Wednesday.
The outcome sent reeling Virginia (2-8, 0-6 ACC) to its seventh loss in a row.
North Carolina (4-5, 3-3) put itself back into the bowl picture with games remaining at Pittsburgh and at home against Old Dominion and Duke.
The Tar Heels went ahead, 14-0, on the last play for the first quarter, with Williams catching a 29-yard touchdown pass from receiver Quinshad Davis. It was the first touchdown reception for a North Carolina quarterback since 1984.
Davis opened the scoring by catching an eight-yard touchdown pass from Williams. North Carolina's last touchdown came on Williams' 15-yard screen pass to Khris Francis on third-and-goal in the fourth quarter.
Williams, a sophomore, ran for a three-yard touchdown on the first possession of the second half.
It was 21-0 by halftime after Ryan Switzer returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown.
The freshman receiver muffed his original attempt to catch the kick, scooped the ball and broke up the middle of the field before breaking along the left sideline.
Running back Kevin Parks put Virginia on the board with an eight-yard scoring run with 4:53 left in the third quarter. He finished with 100 rushing yards on 24 carries.
Virginia safety Anthony Harris intercepted Williams' pass in the third quarter, giving Harris a pickoff in four games in a row. His seven interceptions put him among the nation's leaders.
Two plays later, North Carolina safety Dominique Green picked off a pass by Virginia quarterback David Watford and raced 62 yards for a touchdown.
It was the Tar Heels' first interception for a score since last year against Virginia.
Virginia reached North Carolina territory twice in the first half, punting out of a field-goal formation the first time and coming up short on fourth-and-two from the Tar Heels' 31 the next time.
North Carolina missed a chance to extend its lead when Thomas Moore was off target on a 38-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the first half.
Virginia backup quarterback Greyson Lambert threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keeon Johnson with 11:38 left. North Carolina hadn't allowed a passing touchdown in its previous three games.
NOTES: WR Ryan Switzer's punt return of 85 yards tied for the fourth longest in school history for the Tar Heels. ... RB Kevin Parks, a junior playing in his home state for the first time, notched his 24th career touchdown, putting him in a tie for eighth place on Virginia's all-time list. ... This game is dubbed the "Oldest Rivalry in the South," as the matchup has been played 118 times. Only three other series nationally have been played more often. North Carolina leads, 60-54-4, in the series. ... North Carolina has won four consecutive games against Virginia, marking its longest stretch of success against the Cavaliers since the 1980s. ... North Carolina scored at least 27 points against the Cavaliers for the fourth consecutive time. ... Virginia is off next week before a Nov. 23 game at Miami. ... North Carolina goes to Pittsburgh next week for its last road game of the season.