The victory let the Hokies (5-2, 2-2) keep pace in the race for the Coastal Division crown and kept the Tar Heels (3-4, 2-2) from jumping to the top of the division.
“I’m just proud of those kids,” Virginia Tech Coach Justin Fuente said. “It goes back to a couple of weeks ago [after a 45-10 loss to Duke], and we had to look ourselves in the mirror and talk about how we would handle tough situations. We were certainly in our fair share of them tonight.”
Both teams squandered opportunities to prevail in earlier overtime periods: Virginia Tech kicker Brian Johnson missed game-winning attempts from 41 and 42 yards, and North Carolina’s Noah Ruggles missed from 35 yards and had a 44-yard attempt blocked.
The game marked the debut of college football’s new overtime rules, which give each team a two-point try after the fourth overtime.
Patterson played the majority of the second half for the Hokies after starting quarterback Hendon Hooker went down with an injury late in the first half and Fuente elected to replace backup Ryan Willis with Patterson after three series.
Patterson rushed for 122 yards on 21 carries and also threw for 54 yards and a TD.
“After Hendon got the job, and he played a great game against Miami, it’s really easy to get down on yourself and think your shot is never going to come,” Patterson said. “But I just had to stay in that zone of preparing like I was the starter, and today was that day that I got to play quarterback, so that was pretty cool.”