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UNC vs. Syracuse - Player of the Game: Javonte Williams

The running back’s big game allowed UNC to put away Syracuse and start the season with a win.

NCAA Football: Sryacuse at North Carolina Pool Photo

UNC got off to a bit of a sloppy start in the first half of their 31-6 season-opening win over Syracuse. The Tar Heels went into halftime up just 7-3 and went into the fourth quarter with 10-6 lead. The offense eventually woke up and scored 24 unanswered points to put things away, but it was hardly a good, full 60 minutes from them.

When they finally did turn it on, Javonte Williams quite literally carried them over the line for the win. Williams scored all three of UNC’s second half touchdowns as the Heels put away the Orange. In total, he finished with 57 yards on 14 carries.

In all three cases, the touchdowns were the only touches Williams had on those respective drives. The Heels used him like a battering ram to finish things off, get on the scoreboard, and put the game out of reach.

If there was anything going against him, it’s that he didn’t have the biggest day aside of those three particular plays. Getting 57 yards on four yards per carry is definitely solid, but not overwhelming. His running back mate, Michael Carter, recorded 78 on just seven carries. If you give Williams like 20 of Carter’s yards, he’d be the no doubt winner. Even with that, he still gets it because three touchdowns is just too big a game to ignore. The points he scored were the reason the second half was a lot more relaxing than the first. They call upon him three times to put the ball in the endzone, and three times he answered the call.

The defense also had a big day, holding Syracuse to just 2.8 yards per play. There were several solid nominees from that side of the ball.

There was Chazz Surratt, who had nine tackles, four of which were solo, including two sacks, while also recording two quarterback hurries. Storm Duck had four tackles, but also had two pass breakups, playing some crucial pass defense in the first half when the team was struggling. The brothers Tomon and Tomari Fox combined for three sacks.

On the offensive side of things, Dyami Brown also had a big day, finishing with six catches for 94 yards. Sam Howell had arguably one of his worst games as Tar Heel starter, yet still finished with 295 yards on 34 attempts.

Much as they were for all of last season, UNC was a fourth quarter team in week one. Nowhere else was that more evident than in Javonte Williams’ performance.