On the offensive side, all three Tar Heel running backs went for at least 50 yards, led by Javonte Williams’ 102 on 18 carries. There was Dyami Brown’s circus catch for a touchdown that kicked off Carolina’s comeback. Besides that, he had another three catches and finished with 69 yards total.
For the defense, Myles Wolfolk had two interceptions, both at extremely crucial moments in the game. Somewhat incredibly, Chazz Surratt led the team in tackles after playing quarterback for the last two seasons.
However, the most exciting part of Saturday’s win was probably the play of the Tar Heels’ new QB.
Sam Howell got the start as a true freshman, and he helped deliver a big win for UNC. Howell finished with a line of 15-24 for 245 yards and two touchdowns.
For much of the first half, Mack Brown, Phil Longo, and co. were conservative with their freshman quarterback. In all of UNC’s trips inside the red zone in the first half, every play called was a running one.
However with the game on the line in the second half, they let him loose and he delivered. As the Tar Heels scored 15 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, Howell went 5/6 for 111 yards. Both of his touchdown passes came in the fourth at the end of 90+ yard drives as UNC rallied from a double-digit deficit.
There were some harrowing moments, as you might expect with a true freshman playing in his first game. For instance, there was this pass:
It’s like a video glitch come to life, but it somehow wasn’t intercepted and worked out for UNC.
There will probably be bumps along the road for both Howell and the Tar Heels. He, again, is a true freshman quarterback, and this is a first-year coaching staff. However, this game and this comeback felt like the start of something new and exciting and Howell was a major reason for that.