UNC overwhelms NC State in second half

The matchup of ranked rivals was a lopsided 48-21 win for the Tar Heels

North Carolina tight end Kamari Morales congratulates running back Javonte Williams following Williams' touchdown against NC State during the Tar Heels' 48-21 win Saturday in Chapel Hill. (Gerry Broome / AP Photo)

Mack Brown continued his mastery of his in-state rivals as the Tar Heels pounded NC State 48-21 at Kenan Stadium on Saturday. It matched the second-highest point total by either team in the history of the rivalry.

The Tar Heels followed up last season’s 41-10 win over the Pack. As UNC head coach, Brown has now won seven straight over NC State dating back to 1993. The last five have been by a combined 161-58 margin.

The Tar Heels jumped out to a 14-0 lead. NC State replaced quarterback Bailey Hockman with freshman Ben Finley, who sparked the offense. Finley led the Wolfpack on several long drives, including one the cut the UNC lead in half, 14-7. Taking advantage of a dropped pass by UNC and a missed 22-yard field goal, the Pack trailed just 17-7 at the half.

Carolina asserted itself in the second half, however, as the UNC passing and running games both found their rhythm. Meanwhile, Finley struggled, finishing with two interceptions and a lost fumble before Hockman returned to the game.

Three thoughts

1. Last week, NC State got a 15-yard gain on a reception after staying with a near interception by Duke. The ball was tipped off of the defender’s hands and into the arms of Emeka Emezie. The tip drill was not State’s friend this week. Dylan Parham was wide open in the end zone, and Ben Finley hit him in the hands … twice. Parham tipped the ball into the air two times, and it was then intercepted by a diving Don Chapman. Later, another Finley pass was tipped by a defensive lineman and picked off by UNC linebacker Chazz Surratt. Hockman also had a pass bounce off a receiver’s hands on State’s last offensive drive of the game.

2. UNC’s offensive starters left the game after the first drive of the fourth quarter but still turned in some impressive performances. Sam Howell was 18-of-29 for 252 yards and a touchdown. Javonte Williams had 160 yards rushing and Michael Carter 106. Dyami Brown had seven catches for 105 yards. It’s the second time in school history UNC has had a 200-yard passer, two 100-yard rushers and a 100-yard receiver. The previous time was in 1993.

3. Carolina was extremely physical on both sides of the ball, and NC State had several players go down to injury. The two most serious appeared to be with perhaps State’s most valuable players on both sides of the ball. The cart and a stabilizing board were brought onto the field for running back Ricky Person, but he turned down the help and left the field under his own power. He was later diagnosed with a concussion. Linebacker Payton Wilson had to be helped from the field. He later attempted to return to the game but was clearly struggling and in a great deal of pain.

Number to Know

326-34 — The running game was a bit lopsided. Carolina rushed for 326 yards, topping NC State by 292. Five different Tar Heels had runs of 10 yards or more and three Heels combined for five rushing touchdowns. Carolina averaged 5.9 yards per rush, while the Wolfpack averaged just 1.8.

They Said It

“You don’t stop the run it’s going to be a tough day. There are a lot of things we have to work on, a lot of things.”

— NC State coach Dave Doeren

Player of the Game

Javonte Williams, Tar Heels running back — The junior was a battering ram, gaining 160 yards on the ground and punishing defenders. He had a 1-yard touchdown run and a 5-yarder where he bashed offensive and defensive players out of his way to reach the end zone. Then he ran untouched 27 yards for a score to give him three touchdowns against the Wolfpack for the second straight year. He’s outscored the Wolfpack 36-31 over those two games. That also gives him a team-high 12 touchdowns on the season.

Critical thinking

Controversy, anyone? When starting quarterback Devin Leary went down last week, Hockman was expected to finish out the year. It didn’t take long for Finley to get the call, however, after Hockman managed just seven passing yards on the first three drives of the game.

Finley immediately moved the Pack 80 yards in nine plays before a sure touchdown pass was tipped and intercepted. Finley had two more turnovers and was pulled from the game as Hockman returned to more success. Finley finished 13 of 20 for 143 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions, while Hockman was 14 of 24 for 215 yards, a touchdown and a pick.

Afterward, coach Dave Doeren said the plan was to give Finley a series early, but the coaches left him in after his early success.