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UNC 41 - The Citadel 7: Tar Heels get back on track

After a tough loss last week, Carolina dominates The Citadel ahead of the season finale

NCAA Football: Georgia Tech at North Carolina James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Citadel visited Kenan Stadium on Saturday to take on the Tar Heels on a beautiful afternoon in Chapel Hill. After starting the season 10-0, and clinching a berth in the FCS playoffs, the Bulldogs were hoping to add to their impressive season. Carolina, who were coming off a fundamental-filled yet inspired week of practice, looked to return to normal after last week’s loss to Duke. In many respects, this game was irrelevant for both teams. It did not have a bearing on either team’s postseason hopes, but it was a chance to prove themselves nonetheless.

The Bulldogs received the kickoff, and looked strong to start. Their triple option offense has worked well this season, recording an average of 359.9 yards of offense on the ground. The Citadel drove 67 yards to the North Carolina eight yard line, but missed the field goal. After that, the first half was all the Tar Heels.

The UNC offense was fairly balanced in the first half, getting Elijah Hood eight carries while also throwing for 146 yards with Mitch Trubisky. Where The Citadel looked particularly vulnerable was in the secondary. On their way to 3 touchdowns in the first half, the Heels produced some electrifying plays. With 1:15 left in the first quarter, Trubisky hit Ryan Switzer downfield for a 72 yard touchdown. The ball was perfectly thrown in stride, and the Bulldogs could not keep up. Later in the second, T.J. Logan caught a 23 yard touchdown pass with one hand, a dazzling play to make it 21-0 Carolina.

Finally, after 325 long days without an interception, Tar Heel safety Dominquie Green ended the drought. He picked off quarterback Dominique Allen, and took it 58 yards for a touchdown. The Citadel had only thrown the ball 96 times the entire season coming into this game, but threw a pick to the interceptionless UNC defense. No longer the only college football team without one, the Heels go up 28-0.

The second half was more of the same. T.J. Logan returned the opening kickoff the full 100 yards for a touchdown, essentially putting the game away if it wasn’t already. The Bulldogs continued to struggle on offense, but then again, the UNC defense wasn’t giving them much either. The Citadel did break through for a touchdown mid way through the fourth quarter, taking away the shutout.

This is the second time this season the Carolina defense have faced a triple-option offense. Many times, it can be an equalizer, erasing differences in size and speed. However, this defensive unit forced three fumbles, and held The Citadel offense to just 4.8 yards per rush. They got bodies where they needed to be, and did a good job of tackling an experienced running group.

Saturday’s game was one to build on for both groups. For The Citadel, this game gave them a chance to play a team better than any they had faced this season. It likely opened their eyes to some areas for improvement ahead of the FCS playoffs. For the Tar Heels, a dominant win like this yields some lessons of its own. For starters, they were able to get back into their rhythm. Mitch Trubisky had a cleaner game this week with three touchdowns and no interceptions. He was also able to get Ryan Switzer involved again with a touchdown of his own. Secondly, the Tar Heel defense was able to gain a little bit of confidence back, after giving up 467 yards and four touchdowns to the Blue Devils.

UNC will look to carry some of that confidence into next week’s matchup with the NC State Wolfpack. With any luck, they could be playing for the chance to make it to the ACC Championship. Regardless, the Tar Heels will want a win vs. their rivals from Raleigh. For now, they can enjoy a sizable win at home. The Tar Heels blow out The Citadel 41-7.