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UNC vs. NC State - Player of the Game: Sam Howell

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The freshman put up video game numbers as the Tar Heels took down the Wolfpack.

NCAA Football: North Carolina at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Well that second half was fun.

After coming out of the first half down four points, UNC went off in the last 30 minutes, putting up 35 points to beat NC State fairly handily. As you can imagine dropping that amount of points, and winning by a 31-point margin leaves us with no shortage of candidates for player of the game. Only one put up a near historic stat line.

Sam Howell continued his impressive freshman season by dropping 401 yards and three touchdowns (one interception) on just 33 attempts in the Tar Heels’ 41-10 win over the Wolfpack on Saturday.

In the first half, the passing game was the only facet of the offense that was working, as it accounted for 214 of the 240 yards. The interception also came in the first half, on an extremely ill-advised throw late in the second quarter.

However, then the second half got started and so did UNC. Javonte Williams kicked things off with a rushing touchdown, and things really stated to open up. On the Tar Heels’ next possession, Howell hooked up with Williams for an 11-yard touchdown pass.

Two possessions after that and after another Carolina rushing touchdown, Howell found Dyami Brown for a 52-yard touchdown on a beautiful throw late in the third quarter.

For all intents and purposes, that closed the door or any chances NC State had. Howell threw one more touchdown pass to Dazz Newsome, which would be his final action in the game.

In throwing for 401 yards, Howell became the seventh Tar Heel quarterback to ever throw for 400+ yards in a game. With still one game to go, he is now fourth on the all-time UNC single season passing yard leaderboard with a legitimate chance to get to at least second in the bowl game. (First would take another 402 yards, which, hey, after Saturday is apparently doable.) Although not quite as crazy as it sounds for a variety of reasons, he’s also already 14th all-time in career passing yards at Carolina.

As far as other potential player of the game winners go, nearly every other name mentioned in this article would be deserving. Javonte Williams put up 100 all-purpose yards (58 rushing, 42 passing) and three touchdowns. He probably would have gotten this had Howell not continued to put up video game numbers. His backfield partner Michael Carter also shook off the first half struggles to run for 97 yards on 16 carries.

The receiving duo of Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome finished with 150 and 130 yards respectively, each catching one touchdown.

On the defensive side of the ball, the biggest name to note was again Chazz Surratt who led UNC with 10 tackles, two for loss, and one sack. Three separate Heels, Trey Morrison, Don Chapman, and Myles Dorn also all intercepted one NC State pass each.

Anytime there are that many viable winners for player of the game, it’s safe to say it was probably a good game for UNC. Saturday was certainly that.