The past 2 seasons yielded high-scoring duels between Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman and North Carolina’s Sam Howell, with the Tar Heels winning both times.

Saturday night in Winston-Salem, N.C., fans should be treated to yet another fireworks show between the teams. This time, however, Hartman will be matched against Drake Maye in the  ACC contest (7:30, ESPN2). It figures to be the most exciting matchup of quarterbacks the ACC has seen all season.

To this point, Maye leads the country in touchdown passes with 31, just ahead of Ohio State star CJ Stroud’s 29. Hartman missed the season opener against VMI, but the redshirt junior still is tied for 9th nationally with 24 touchdown passes. Maye also is 3rd nationally in passing yards per contest at 329.3, while Hartman is 12th at 302.9. No other ACC quarterbacks are among the top 20 in either category.

Two years ago in Chapel Hill, Hartman and Howell combined for 979 passing yards and 10 scores, as the Tar Heels came back from a 45-24 deficit to win a 59-53 thriller. Howell threw for 3 scores and ran for another during that rally.

Last year was even more electrifying. The Demon Deacons entered Chapel Hill at 8-0 and ranked No. 10. And at the midway point of the 3rd quarter, they were leading 45-27 against a North Carolina crew that entered at 4-4.

Just 2 minutes and change after Hartman hit AT Perry for a 66-yard score, Howell connected with Antoine Green from 29 yards to cut the Wake Forest lead to 11. From there, halfback Ty Chandler took over, reaching the end zone 3 times during the final quarter. Hartman’s 398 yards and 5 touchdowns were not enough, as the Tar Heels ended the Demon Deacons’ hopes of a perfect regular season.

Round 3 should be another barnburner. Howell and Chandler are gone, but this year, North Carolina has been the Drake Maye Show.

Somehow, the redshirt freshman is set to surpass Howell’s program-record 38 touchdown passes, needing just 7 in (likely) 5 remaining games. Maye is 2nd nationally in passing efficiency (181.8) and 4th in completion percentage (71.2%). His precision, pocket presence and mobility all are plus traits, and in terms of value to his team, Maye is near the top of the list across all players in the country, despite 2 interceptions against Miami and only a 53.1% completion rate in the Tar Heels’ loss to Notre Dame.

Despite consecutive losses, do not underestimate Hartman and Wake Forest. The Charlotte native simply was appreciative to be able to play football again in September, but 7 games in, he once again is among the most prolific quarterbacks in the country. He executes Wake Forest’s long-mesh staple to perfection, attacking intermediate and deep throwing lanes at greater efficiency than previous years. Hartman is completing nearly 63% of his passing attempts, which would set a career high if the season ended today. Make no mistake, the 6-foot-1 quarterback still is among the best in America.

If there is one thing to nitpick about Hartman, though, it is turnovers. The Oceanside Collegiate Academy alum threw 3 interceptions during Saturday’s 30-21 loss to NC State, his 2nd consecutive outing with multiple picks. Hartman also was picked off 3 times during the 48-21 loss Oct. 29 at Louisville.

In last year’s 45-21 loss to Pittsburgh in the ACC title game, Hartman tossed 4 interceptions. Obviously, not every interception is on the quarterback — the Wolfpack defensive front hounded Hartman, with 4 sacks Saturday to prove it. But for Wake Forest to have a chance of winning — as surprising field-goal favorites — against the Tar Heels, Hartman cannot afford to turn the ball over multiple times.

Here is to betting he will not. The Demon Deacons will enter Saturday as losers of 2 straight, and the possibility of snatching 10 wins for the 2nd straight year is waning. Coach Dave Clawson will have his team ready to go, and that includes Hartman, whose history against North Carolina suggests another memorable performance.

But he will have to outduel Maye, who is the only quarterback standing in the way of Hartman being the top dog at the position in the ACC. Saturday represents Maye’s chance to outduel the proverbial elder statesman of the ACCs quarterbacks and to continue his stellar debut.

These quarterbacks have put on a show all year. Now, it is time for them to do it while facing each other.

If this season, and the 2 before it, are any indication, they will.