On the whole, Sam Howell has been good this season. Coming into Saturday, he had thrown for 17 touchdowns, just over 2000 yards, and was averaging over 10 yards per passing attempt.
He hasn’t really gotten as much shine as you might expect with those numbers. Behind him, he’s had the running back duo of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams who both have been incredible and have gotten the majority of the offensive plaudits. In Howell’s gaudier stat games, like the loss to Virginia, he’s been slightly overshadowed by the people catching his passes and putting up even bigger stat lines.
Yesterday against Wake Forest, the spotlight belonged to Sam Howell.
The Tar Heels’ quarterback threw for 550 yards, six touchdowns, and ran for a seventh. He broke school records and helped North Carolina to a remarkable 59-53 comeback win over the Demon Deacons.
Howell was excellent in the first half, throwing for 323 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception that wasn’t really his fault. Yet due to what was going on around him, UNC went into the half down 11, and then saw that deficit balloon to 21 early in the third quarter. From that point forward, Howell took over.
After the 6:56 mark in the third quarter, UNC scored the game’s next 35 points. The first three of those five touchdowns came via Howell passes. He ran in a fourth, and that one gave the Heels the lead for the first time since it was 24-21. Javonte Williams ran in the fifth, which gave Carolina the lead for good despite a late rally attempt by Wake. He “only” threw for 227 yards in the second half, but pretty much every one was necessary for UNC to come away with the win.
Now let’s get to all the records his performance set:
The 550 yards Howell threw for is a school record and also the first time any Heel has thrown for 500 or more. (The previous record was Marquise Williams with 494 in 2015 Duke game.) His six touchdown passes and seven total are also both school records.
On an ACC front, the six TDs tied the conference record, while he wasn’t too far off the 580 yards Deshaun Watson threw for back in 2016.
Besides that, he was also the quarterback on the UNC team that tied a number of school comeback records. It tied the record for biggest comeback. It was the biggest comeback in the second half and the biggest comeback at home.
His two main receiving threats, Dyami Brown and Dazz Newsome, would be co-runners up for player of the game. They both caught two touchdowns each, finishing with yardage totals of 189 for Newsome and 163 for Brown.
Williams also deserves some note, going for 101 yards (averaging 7.8 yards on 13 attempts), while scoring the aforementioned game-sealing touchdown.
As far as the defensive side of things, no one played well enough to top Howell’s performance. However, some young players stepped up in the second half after the defense was truly abysmal in the first 30 minutes.
Before, he’s done in Chapel Hill, Sam Howell will probably rewrite a large chunk of the UNC passing record book. As far as the single game records go, he did a lot of that yesterday. Thanks in large part to him, UNC had a comeback win that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.