UNC came out of the gate strong on Saturday against Syracuse, and they kept their foot on the gas on their way to a very lopsided 40-7 victory. The win brings the Tar Heels to 5-0 on the season.
Syracuse was completely stifled offensively in the first half, accumulating just 70 total yards to Carolina’s 424. Drake Maye threw for 280 first half yards and two touchdowns. Carolina did a great job of owning the time-of-possession and forcing a struggling Orange defense to stay on the field while the Tar Heel defense pitched a shutout.
The Orange, who’d won the opening toss and deferred, did score with relative ease to open the second half, but that was really their only threat. It continued to be all Tar Heels from there, allowing Mack Brown to ultimately sub out Maye in the fourth quarter.
Maye had himself quite a day without even playing the entire game, throwing for 442 yards with two touchdowns and rushing for 55 and another touchdown. UNC has now scored at least 30 points in all five of their games this season.
Nate McCollum was a major factor on offense with 135 yards. Bryson Nesbit (79 yards receiving) and Kobe Paysour (100 yards receiving) were the beneficiaries of the touchdowns, but McCollum was making huge plays in the middle of the field. In Tez Walker’s UNC debut, he caught six passes for 43 yards. A relatively slow start is probably to be expected, but it was a solid first step.
In addition to the numbers Maye put up through the air, UNC also found lots of success on the ground. They out-rushed the Orange 203-87 with Omarion Hampton leading the way with 78 yards. Punter Ben Kiernan chipped in 17 on a blocked-punt-turned-first-down-scramble that led to a touchdown early on.
The defense did everything they needed to do to keep the game from ever really feeling like a game. Alijah Huzzie grabbed his third interception in the last two games, Amare Campbell had his first career pick, and Cedric Gray had eight tackles and a sack.
So the train keeps chugging along for the Tar Heels. UNC moves to 5-0 for the first time since the 1997 season. There have definitely not been an abundance of relaxing games for Tar Heel football fans over the last several years, so today was a very welcome change.
Carolina has a tougher test on the horizon as they welcome Miami to Chapel Hill next Saturday.