UNC played relatively well in the first half, especially through the first quarter. The offense clicked and the defense managed some stops. However a handful of mistakes kept the Heels from making the most of some early dominance. Marquise Williams' interception in the end zone killed one drive while Des Lawrence dropped a sure pick six shortly on the next possession to keep UNC scoreless.
UNC finally broke through with an efficient drive. Williams hit Bug Howard for a 21-yard touchdown to give the Tar Heels a 7-0 lead. South Carolina adjusted to new starter Connor Mitch's struggles with multiple direct snap runs to RB Brandon Wilds, WR Pharoh Cooper and also some read option from Mitch. That got the Gamecock offense moving and on the scoreboard with a touchdown early in the second quarter.
UNC's offense continued to be solid in sports but not full taking advantage of productive drives. However the Tar Heels' kicking game was much improved over last season. Nick Weiler hit a 47-yard FG to put UNC 10-7 then a 38-yard FG to make it 13-10. UNC would carry that lead into halftime.
The second half bogged down into a series of mistakes by both teams. UNC went for it on 4th and inches only to get stuffed at it's own 35 yard line. South Carolina obliged with mistakes of its own and another Williams red zone interception led to a scoreless third quarter. UNC did get huge yardage from Elijah Hood but the Tar Heels failed to produce points out of it.
The missed opportunities finally caught up with UNC early in the fourth quarter when senior RB Shon Carson put the Gamecocks ahead 17-13 on a 48-yard touchdown run. After UNC failed to get traction on the next possession and nearly airmailed the ball over punter Corbin Daly's head, the Gamecocks were moving the ball again. Two big pushes by the defensive line produced stops on 3rd and 4th down with a yard to go at the UNC ten.
The offense picked up on the momentum shift and Hood continued to roll as UNC moved inside the Gamecock five yard line. On third and goal from the three and Hood's 138 yards inexplicably on the sideline Williams took a five yard sack. Fedora opted to go for it on fourth down instead of taking the field goal to get within one. Williams threw his third interception of the night and second in the end zone to effectively kill UNC's hopes with 3:40 left.
From there UNC couldn't get a stop as South Carolina milked the clock and took a 17-13 win.
UNC got huge performances from Bug Howard who had 114 yards receiving and a touchdown. Elijah Hood racked up a career high 138 yards on just 12 carries which begs to ask why he didn't get the ball more often. In the end the defense did what it needed to do. South Carolina had just 17 points but one of the worst games of Williams' career and a litany of little mistakes doomed the offense to just 13 points.