Nothing about today’s game was pretty and all the rust you had to fear was there definitely showed up, but Carolina found a way to survive the upset bid by Boston College late for a 26-22 victory. Despite the fact that UNC led the entire way, it never felt safe. The offense was clearly off and the defense struggled to contain quarterback Phil Jurkovec all game.
With 14 points in the first quarter, it looked like Carolina might cruise to a victory. Those dreams were promptly crushed by a brutal second quarter even though the Tar Heels were still ahead at the half. Penalties were a problem for both teams, as UNC racked up ten for 96 yards and the Eagles had 12 for 110 yards themselves. It made for a much more nail-biting finish than necessary.
Carolina found success in the ground game with Michael Carter’s 121 yards leading the way. Javonte Williams provided another 57 yards and a touchdown on the ground, completely contrasting the way Boston College conducted their business. BC only picked up 40 yards on the ground total in the entire game, which they got away with by Jurkovec assaulting the defense through the air for 313 yards.
Sam Howell threw for two touchdowns and 225 yards but it felt like nothing came easy for them in the passing game. Howell’s top target, Dyami Brown, only picked up 60 yards on four receptions. The Eagles made Dazz Newsome pretty much a non-factor by limiting him to just one reception in the game.
Things got dicey late when Carolina’s kicker, Grayson Atkins, missed a 47-yard field goal with 5:46 left in the game. It set up good field position for Boston College, and they capitalized on it with a long drive for a touchdown. The defense had certainly been on their heels and the Eagles needed a two-point conversion to tie it up with hopes of recovering an onside kick looming in the final minute of regulation. Enter: Trey Morrison
Morrison found himself in the right place at the right time as the two-point attempt came right to him. He raced down the field for a safety that pretty much put the game on ice. Carolina recovered BC’s onside attempt to put the final nail in the coffin.
The penalties were frustrating and the Heels definitely looked like a team that hadn’t played in over 20 games. Any expectation that it would go a different way was probably too optimistic. It cannot be easy to get in a rhythm when your season has been so disrupted, but they will have to shake all that off before next week. 2-0 feels pretty good for now, though.
UNC will take on Virginia Tech in Chapel Hill next Saturday.