The North Carolina Tar Heels open their home season looking to even their 2021 record at 1-1. Carolina was upset by Virginia Tech last week, losing 17-10 and dropping from 10 to 24 in the AP Top 25.
The Tar Heels will face Georgia State in the home opener. The Panthers were blown out by Army, 43-10, last weekend and will be facing their first Power Five team since upsetting Tennessee in 2019.
The Heels will look for a return to form from quarterback Sam Howell, who struggled to a three-interception game in the opener. Despite the loss, he became UNC’s all-time leader in touchdown passes and will look to pad his record.
Scouts from the NFL Bills, Patriots, Falcons and Broncos have press box seats to see Howell and his UNC teammates in person. Carolina will wear light blue helmets and jerseys with white pants for the game. Georgia State is in all white with blue helmets.
Last week’s loss notwithstanding, Georgia State returns plenty of talent from last year’s bowl championship team, including all 11 offensive starters, nine starters on defense and the two kicking specialists. They also have two close connections with the Tar Heels. Linebacker Kyle Wright started his college career with UNC, playing four games in 2018 with two tackle before transferring. Fellow linebacker Jhi’Shawn Taylor is the older brother of UNC’s Jahlil Taylor.
Georgia State has never beaten a ranked team, although they’ve come close, losing by three to No. 21 Louisiana last year and leading in the fourth quarter against No. 9 Wisconsin in 2016.
UNC wins the toss and defers. About to kick off to Georgia State.
Official word from UNC: RB DJ Jones and OL Josh Ezeudu will not play due to lower body injuries
Quick march down field by UNC. Howell hit Green and Downs for 44 yards, then carried 22 yards for the score. 7-0 Heels 11:45 in the first.
UNC stops Ga State on fourth and short and takes over at its own 32.
Howell to Green, who was covered tightly. Hits him in the hands for a 57 yard touchdown. UNC goes up 14-0. 7:55 to go in the first
British Brooks gets a tipped punt. It goes 26 yards, setting UNC up at the 33.
First snap is fumbled by Howell. Ga State recovers at the 19. Best field position of the night for them. Looked like Chandler ran into Howell, knocking the ball loose.
Panthers can't advance the ball at all and kick a 37 yard field goal. Score is now 14-3 Heels, 3:28 still to go in the first.
Heels moving again. Face a third and five on the GSU 35 as the first quarter ends. UNC up 14-3.
Brilliant back shoulder throw from Howell to Simmons. Hit him at the 16, Simmons was able to change direction on a dime and take it in for a 30-yard score. 21-3 Heels, 13:49 left in the half.
Georgia State puts together a 7:30 drive, including some weird formations with linemen out wide. Runs it in from four yards out to cut the UNC lead to 21-10, 6:19 left in the half.
GSU getting creative. Tries a fake punt with the punter standing in the end zone, and goes with an option play. UNC stops it, takes over at the GSU 21.
Howell sacked, then overthrows receiver in the end zone under pressure. Atkins kicks a 29-yard FG to make it 24-10. 0:56 before half.
And that's our score going into the half.
Howell hits Simmons for a 41-yard gain into the red zone to start the second half. Drive stalls and Atkins misses a 34-yard field goal attempt.
Carolina marches downfield and finishes the drive with a one-yard British Brooks touchdown run. It's 31-10 with 5:32 left in the third.
Chandler with a two yard run for his first touchdown as a Tar Heel. 38-10. 2:46 left in the third.
Sam Howell goes over 300 passing for the game, then runs it 62 yards for a score to go over 100 rushing. 45-10, Heels with 8 seconds left in the third.