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UNC snaps Power Five season opener losing streak with 24-20 win over South Carolina

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Oh my god, did that really just happen?

NCAA Football: South Carolina at North Carolina Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

I...what?

Really?

The North Carolina Tar Heels snapped a 22-year losing streak to Power Five opponents in season openers by defeating South Carolina in Bank of America Stadium Saturday afternoon. Let those words sink in. Let what those words mean sink in.

We’ve seen the story over and over the last couple seasons: UNC manages to hang in a game for a while before collapsing down the stretch. In another season, under another coach, that may have been true today. The Heels were down at the beginning of the fourth quarter, and it looked every bit like it might be another close-but-no-cigar situation. Under a new coach with a freshman quarterback, close might have been good enough. However, Mack Brown and Sam Howell did us one better. They won.

The game wasn’t without its frustrating moments. There was a stretch of twelve. straight. runs. in the end zone that was completely maddening. However, the freshman quarterback was ultimately allowed to air it out down the stretch, and he did just that.

Observe:

Magic.

Also, Dyami Brown had one of the best touchdown catches I’ve ever seen to give the Heels life.

This felt like a team that just wouldn’t be denied, and they did everything it took to win, including the defense coming up with two huge interceptions late. The defense was a bright spot all day long, but they were absolutely huge late in the game. Myles Wolfolk was a beast, coming up with both of the team’s picks.

Carolina finished with 238 yards on the ground between Javonte Williams’ 102, Michael Carter’s 77, and Antonio Williams’ 53. They looked incredibly tough and were a big part of the comeback win. Howell completed 15 of his 24 pass attempts for 245 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions.

There are undoubtedly kinks to work out before next week’s game against Miami, but this one feels so good. We’ve been waiting for months to see if all the good feelings around Mack Brown’s return could translate into on-field results. Today they did, and it’s a great day to be a Tar Heel.