North Carolina hands The Citadel 1st loss of the season
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) It was North Carolina's strangest blowout win in a long time.
Mitch Trubisky passed for 184 yards and three touchdowns to help the Tar Heels beat The Citadel 41-7 on Saturday.
T.J. Logan had a touchdown catch and a 100-yard kickoff return for a score for North Carolina (8-3), which forced a season-high four turnovers.
''We were worried about that football team,'' North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said. ''We knew they were a really good football team, that they would control the clock and that our guys were going to have to steal a few possessions. Defensively, we did that.''
North Carolina won even though its high-octane offense was quiet for much of the day. The Tar Heels converted just 1 of 8 third downs and were outgained by the Bulldogs 371-356.
Perhaps most surprisingly, the Tar Heels intercepted a pass.
Dominquie Green ended North Carolina's interception drought when he picked off a pass and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. The Tar Heels had been the only FBS team not to intercept a pass this season.
Ryan Switzer added a 72-yard touchdown as North Carolina won for the 11th time in its last 12 home games.
The Citadel (10-1) rushed for 344 yards, possessed the ball for more than 42 minutes and ran 33 more plays than North Carolina.
Grant Drakeford had a 28-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter for the Bulldogs, whose school-record 10-game winning streak came to an end.
''We were nowhere near playing where we wanted today,'' Citadel coach Brent Thompson said. ''We needed a day like today to remind us that if you don't play well and you turn the ball over and you make a lot of mistakes, you're not going to win very many football games.''
The Citadel: The Bulldogs stumbled in their stiffest test of the season to date. Lacking an effective passing attack, they were unable to rally after falling behind early. The Citadel must try to avoid similar circumstances in the postseason as opponents load up to try to stop its vaunted running game.
North Carolina: Coming off a deflating loss and playing an undefeated opponent with an unconventional offense, the Tar Heels won a dangerous game without much difficulty. Their advantages in speed and overall talent were too much for The Citadel to overcome.
''We weren't as sharp on offense, but we picked it up in other areas,'' Trubisky said.
HE SAID IT
Fedora had grown tired of talking about his team's lack of interceptions, but he cracked a joke about the end of the streak.
''I was told that we're the only team in the country that has returned all of their interceptions for touchdowns,'' he said. ''That's a pretty big deal right there, I would think.''
Logan's 23-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter was impressive. He ran through the middle of the defense uncovered, and it appeared that Trubisky threw the ball too far in front of him. But Logan dived and speared the ball with his right hand before rolling over with control of it in the end zone. His kick return for a score to begin the second half was his school-record fourth kickoff return for a touchdown.
The Citadel: The Bulldogs will play in the FCS playoffs after earning the automatic berth from the Southern Conference.
North Carolina: Still alive for the ACC's Coastal Division title, the Tar Heels host rival N.C. State on Friday. North Carolina needs to win and needs Virginia Tech to lose at home to Virginia in order to play in the conference championship game for the second year in a row.