UNC Football vs. Miami

The 8-1 UNC football team will take on Miami in an ACC battle on Saturday, November 14th.  The game kicks off at 3:30 in Kenan Stadium.

You can listen to UNC Football vs. Miami on 97.9 FM and 1360 AM WCHL.

WCHL will broadcast Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts from 12:30 until 2:30 from Hickory Tavern.  The UNC pregame show starts at 2:30 from Kenan Stadium.

The Tar Heels are sitting atop the ACC Coastal division after defeating the Duke Blue Devils 66-31 last Saturday.  Senior quarterback Marquise Williams completed 23-of-35 passes for 494 yards–a new school record–and accounted for five touchdowns in all. He also rushed for 30 yards, to finish with 524 total yards by himself–the first Tar Heel to ever break the 500 yard mark–in what was arguably the best performance ever by a UNC football player.

The performance launched the UNC football team from Number 21 to Number 17 in the AP Poll.  After being unlisted in the College Football Playoff rankings, Carolina is now Number 23.

The Miami Hurricanes will come into Chapel Hill with a 6-3 record.  The team is 2-0 since the firing of head coach Al Golden.  In the ACC Coastal division, Miami is tied for third place with Pittsburgh.


UNC-Duke Football Pregame at Hickory Tavern

UNC-Duke football.  Tobacco Road football that matters in November.

Join WCHL at Hickory Tavern in Carrboro for your Tar Heel Football pregame festivities.

WCHL will be broadcasting “Countdown to Kickoff with Ron Stutts” from 9:00 until 11:00 AM on Saturday, November 7 on 97.9 FM, 1360 AM and online at Chapelboro.com.

The Tar Heels take on the Duke Blue Devils in Kenan Stadium at noon.  Carolina is 7-1 on the season and is looking to go 5-0 in the ACC after last week’s win over Pitt.  Despite Duke’s last-second loss against Miami, this game decides who will be in the driver’s seat in the ACC Coastal Division.

Hickory Tavern is located on 310-110 East Main Street in Carrboro.

While you are visiting Hickory Tavern, be sure to sign up for our Carolina Basketball Holiday Hoops in Brooklyn Giveaway.




Are UNC Athletes Prepared For Life After Sports?

From multiple NCAA investigations to last year’s Wainstein Report, UNC athletics has been under fire for years, charged with failing to take academics seriously. The scandal has many facets – including the so-called “paper” classes that professors never graded; the tutors who reportedly suggested grades to keep athletes eligible; and Mary Willingham’s charge that many UNC athletes couldn’t read beyond an eighth-grade level. Even now, faculty members are still raising concerns about “special admits,” or the practice (common to many universities) of admitting student-athletes whose academic records otherwise wouldn’t qualify them for Carolina.

But of course the juiciest bits of the scandal give us only one side of a complex, nuanced story. What actually is the life of a UNC student-athlete? What are the challenges, the advantages, the constraints? What resources are available to help? Does UNC really care about academics in athletics? At the end of the day, do student-athletes still receive a quality education at Carolina? Is the University setting them up to succeed in life after college and after sports?

Mike Ingersoll is a 2010 UNC grad and a four-year member of the Tar Heel football team; he was recruited by John Bunting and played under Butch Davis, starting for two years at right tackle. After a short professional career, he’s returned to UNC, where he’s now a second-year law student.

Ingersoll says – contrary to popular belief – that UNC really did care about academics, even before any violations were uncovered, and that all the recent reforms have made the situation even better. He also says the University does a fine job preparing student-athletes for lives and careers beyond professional sports.

Mike Ingersoll shared his story this week with WCHL’s Aaron Keck.


Tar Heels Out For Revenge Against the Wolfpack

With the ACC Coastal Division wrapped up–and a spot in the conference title game against Clemson assured—the No. 14 UNC football team has already put together its best season since 1997.

It’s not over yet, though, as the Tar Heels close out the year in Raleigh against their most-hated football rivals, NC State–seeking revenge for the 35-7 loss they suffered at the hands of the Wolfpack in Chapel Hill last season.

Ten straight victories have head coach Larry Fedora’s Tar Heels sitting at 10-1 this year—with a perfect 7-0 mark against conference foes. Last week’s division-clinching win over Virginia Tech helped UNC reach the first of the goals Fedora has preached in team meetings all year.

For most teams it could be easy to be complacent in this situation. But the Wolfpack are the opponent this weekend—and well, that just means the Tar Heels have yet another opportunity to take care of another year-long goal.

UNC vs Virginia Tech

Larry Fedora and Marquise Williams have UNC making history this season. (Smith Cameron Photography)

“It’s been one of our goals to be state champs,” Fedora said at his weekly press conference on Monday. “Whether we played [NC State] early or late, it was still going to be the same way.

“This goal is equally important to us [as winning the Coastal],” he added. “I don’t worry about this team, a letdown, or ‘Are they gonna be motivated enough?’ That really hasn’t entered into my mind.”

To become state champs, the Tar Heels have already beaten Duke and Wake Forest, but will now have to defeat a 7-4 NC State team that is one of the few in the ACC with as much athleticism as UNC.

Not to mention the bragging rights the Wolfpack hold in this rivalry, winning six of the last eight meetings between the two schools—including the demoralizing victory a year ago.

“Cannot forget it,” senior linebacker Shakeel Rashad said in reference to that game. “Football’s an emotional game, and so obviously that’s been in the back of our minds—it’s a salty game—so that taste has been in the back of our mouths since the game ended last year.

“We have to remember what it felt like, the way we lost that game.”

After the win in 2014, Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren took some subtle jabs at UNC, saying that his is a “blue-collar, hands-in-the-dirt” school.

The Tar Heel players and coaches chose not to address those words directly in the lead-up to the game this week, but senior quarterback Marquise Williams did speak about how the loss affected the team’s close to the season, including the 40-21 bowl loss to Rutgers.

“It was bad, you know, that feeling,” Williams said. “A rival team, that came here and stomped [us] on [our] own ground. It was tough for us–and we had to overcome it, and move on from it.”

“It seemed like we didn’t overcome [the loss to State] because then we went out and got stomped some more.”

The star of last year’s NC State team—dual-threat quarterback Jacoby Brissett—is back this year, and will provide Williams with a near mirror of himself whenever he’s watching from the sidelines. Not only that, the weapons around Brissett, like speedy tailbacks Jaylen Samuels and Nyheim Hines, will present the UNC defense with a stiff challenge all day long.

Wolfpack  quarterback Jacoby Brissett plays very similar to Williams--and also wears number 12. (Lance King/Getty Images)

Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett plays very similar to Williams–and also wears number 12. (Lance King/Getty Images)

“These guys are not slaps,” Williams said about his opponents this weekend. “This is a good football team, and they’re a good football team that’s been competing, playing very well. They played Clemson very well, they played Florida State very well, and they’ve been doing great things.”

The Wolfpack lost a 56-41shootout when they played Clemson, the No. 1 team in the country, and fell 34-17 in Tallahassee against Florida State.

Now they’ll get one final chance at a marquee upset when they meet a Tar Heel team not only hell bent on revenge, but locked in on goals it’s never reached before—a message Fedora made clear about his squad.

“We’re not done,” Fedora said. “I won’t sit back and look back until it’s all over with. I told [the players] earlier in the week ‘We’ve come too far to only come this far.’

“We still have our blinders on, our heads down, and continue to be focused on the job at hand.”

Broadcast Information:

The game will be broadcast live on WCHL’s radio airwaves, on 97.9 FM and 1360 AM. It will also be televised on ABC. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.

Game Notes

  • It will be the 105th meeting all-time between the local rivals. UNC leads the all-time series at 65-33-6.
  • Sophomore tailback Elijah Hood last week became the first Tar Heel to rush for 1,000 yards in a season since Gio Bernard did it in 2012.
  • Carolina’s 10-game win streak is the third longest in the country at the moment.

UNC vs. Virginia Tech

The North Carolina Tar Heels beat the Virginia Tech Hokies in an overtime thriller on Saturday.  The 30-27 victory clinched an ACC Coastal Division Championship.  Check out photos from UNC vs. Virginia Tech by Smith Cameron Photography.


UNC Football Clinches Coastal Division In OT Thriller At Virginia Tech

It certainly wasn’t the prettiest game the UNC football team has played this year, but after letting a 14-point lead disintegrate in the final three minutes of regulation the 17th ranked Tar Heels were able to escape Blacksburg on Saturday with a 30-27 overtime victory over the Virginia Tech Hokies–keeping their playoff hopes intact.

“That’s why I’m in this,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora said afterwards. “To see [the players] reach their goals and dreams. We sit in those living rooms and tell them and their parents that my dream is for them to reach their dreams when they come to Carolina.

“For those seniors, their No. 1 goal this year was to win the Coastal Division, and they’ve done that,” he added. “And we expect that to turn into bigger things.”

Virginia Tech turned the game into a defensive slugfest early on. (Smith Cameron Photography)

Virginia Tech turned the game into a defensive slugfest early on. (Smith Cameron Photography)

Senior quarterback Marquise Williams fumbled three times in the game–and twice in the fourth quarter with UNC trying to run out the clock–but his 5-yard touchdown pass to Quinshad Davis in the extra period was a walk-off winner.

“Marquise really was never shaken–I can’t say the same for me,” Fedora said. “After the second fumble, he came off and he was like, ‘Okay, I’m good, I’m good.’ I didn’t have a whole lot to say to him. I really didn’t. There was nothing good that I was going to say.

“He went over there and got himself ready to go,” the coach said about his quarterback. “He knew what was at stake and what he had to do, and then he went back out. He said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll make a play.’”

Already UNC’s all-time leading receiver in terms of catches and touchdowns, Davis’s touchdown clinches the ACC Coastal Division for the Tar Heels and their head coach, Larry Fedora. It also marks the team’s 10th consecutive victory, bringing its record to 10-1 in 2015–and a perfect 7-0 against conference opponents.

All signs late in the ball game pointed to Virginia Tech pulling off a fairy tale ending for their head coach since 1987, Frank Beamer, in what was his final home game at Lane Stadium. Instead, Beamer’s squad falls to 5-6 overall and 3-4 in the ACC–needing a win next week against Virginia to keep his 22-year streak of making a bowl game alive.

Hokie quarterback Michael Brewer completed 20 of his 35 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns–each coming in the game’s closing minutes. His top target, receiver Isaiah Ford, continually burned the Tar Heel secondary deep all game long–catching eight passes for 155 yards and a score.

“When we talked all week about this game, we knew that this was the perfect storm,” Fedora said. “Everything was going against us. They had the tribute to Coach and they needed to get bowl eligible and it was the seniors’ last day in this stadium, and the black unis.”

A defensive battle for most of the day, Williams’s 18-yard touchdown run on the game’s first drive was the only touchdown of the first half. Joey Slye’s 32-yard field goal for Virginia Tech accounted for the only other points before the break, with UNC ahead 7-3.

The Tar Heels struggled with the crowd noise in Blacksburg, picking up seven false start penalties on offense–which helped contribute to the season-high eight punts they were forced into.

Elijah Hood scored two touchdowns in the fourth quarter for UNC. (Smith Cameron Photography)

On top of that Williams struggled with his accuracy, only completing 13-of-26 throws, but for 205 yards and a score.

Taking advantage of that fact, the Hokies were able to hang around until the end–getting a 4-yard scoring run from Brewer to tie the game at 10 with the fourth quarter approaching.

Despite getting only three carries in the first half, Fedora turned to sophomore tailback Elijah Hood to try and put the game away in the end.

On back-to-back drives to begin the final period, the Tar Heels found the end zone by giving it to Hood, who gained 117 yards on 17 carries once it was all said and done.

Sophomore cornerback MJ Stewart then intercepted Brewer in the red zone with just over 5 minutes remaining and the Tar Heels up by a pair of touchdowns

It seemed, momentarily, like the game was over at that point. But the Hokies found a way to battle back.

A bad exchange on a handoff from Williams to Hood gave Virginia Tech the ball at their own 37-yard line. Then a couple of long passes by Brewer, one for 25 yards to fullback Sam Rogers, and a 26-yarder to Ford put them in business.

Four plays later–on fourth-and-goal–Brewer found 6-foot-7 tight end Bucky Hodges to make it 24-17 with 2:54 remaining.

TJ Logan got the Tar Heels going with a 21-yard rush to begin their next drive, but on the next play Williams fumbled again–and again Virginia Tech recovered.

Starting from UNC’s 48-yard line, Brewer and Ford struck again–this time on a 36-yard bomb that set the Hokies up 12 yards from the end zone.

The script was similar to the previous drive, as Tech faced 4th-and-2. Only this time Ford got to finish what he started, hauling in a 4-yard score that ended up sending the game to overtime.

UNC won the coin toss to begin the extra period and chose to start out on defense.

Virginia Tech was unable to even gain a first down in their chance with the ball, going three-and-out and settling for a 41-yard field goal–meaning a touchdown would win it for the Tar Heels.

And that’s exactly what they got, pulling things together after unraveling late.

Quinshad Davis watches the referee signal his game-winning touchdown. (Smith Cameron Photography)

An 18-yard pass from Williams to Ryan Switzer got the ball rolling on the drive’s first play, before a false start penalty a couple snaps later put the team in a precarious position.

Third-and-goal from the 5-yard line. With the ACC Coastal Division on the line.

In the season opener against South Carolina, Williams was faced with the same situation and ended up throwing the ball into the outstretched arms of a defender–the only reason this team isn’t undefeated now.

This time, though, he found the outstretched arms of the program’s most decorated receiver. And with it, the right to play No. 1 ranked Clemson two weeks from now in Charlotte, his hometown.

“We knew we were going to have to play error-free,” Fedora said. “That’s what we talked about, just be really good in the fundamentals and the techniques, and be brilliant in the basics.

“And we didn’t, but we found a way to win.”

See photos from UNC vs. Virginia Tech

Up Next:

Although this win clinches the Coastal Division for the Tar Heels, they’ll still have to defeat the arch-rival NC State Wolfpack in Raleigh next week to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Game Notes:

  • UNC had gone each of its last three games without turning the ball over. Williams’ fumble in the first half ended that streak.
  • It was the first time the Tar Heels had to play in overtime since the 2010 Music City Bowl.
  • Williams also carried the ball 18 times–one more than Hood had–for 94 yards.
  • The Tar Heels seven conference wins are one more than the 1980 ACC Championship winning team had, as that squad went 6-0 on the way to the title.



Stakes Through the Roof For UNC Football Against Virginia Tech

One win.

That’s all it will take for the No. 12 ranked UNC football team to clinch the ACC Coastal Division and continue its dream season.

Standing in front of them?

A date in Blacksburg against the Virginia Tech Hokies–in what will be the final home game for their legendary head coach, Frank Beamer.

Blowout victories over Duke and Miami in the last couple weeks have shown fans that head coach Larry Fedora’s team is a force to be reckoned with. Ranked 17th in the latest College Football Playoff rankings, the 9-1 Tar Heels have been largely overlooked thanks to losing the season opener to a now 3-7 South Carolina team, and also for having a weak strength of schedule that hasn’t included a single top 25 opponent.

Marquise Williams (12) has already put his name among the greatest quarterbacks in UNC history. (UNC Athletics)

Marquise Williams (12) has already put his name among the greatest quarterbacks in UNC history. (UNC Athletics)

Because of that, UNC’s playoff credentials have been a hot button issue this week. But for senior quarterback Marquise Williams, none of it matters much at this point.

“It’s cool, but you can tell [the playoff committee] still doesn’t respect [us],” Williams said at Monday’s weekly press conference. “As long as [we] just keep winning football games—and keep winning by 30 and 40 points—I mean, eventually they’ll have to respect [us].

“It’s fun, but you can tell deep down inside they don’t wanna talk about Carolina football,” he added with a chuckle. “And that’s alright.”

The Tar Heels have an outside shot at making the four-team playoff for the national championship by winning out, and defeating Clemson in a potential ACC title game.

The next step, though, is to defeat Virginia Tech at Lane Stadium—notoriously one of the loudest environments in college football. Although the Hokies have struggled to an uncharacteristic 5-5 record so far, Fedora refuses to look past his opponent.

“It will be an extremely tough game, playing up there in Blacksburg,” Fedora said. “Especially with Coach Beamer’s last home game.

“There will be a tremendous amount of emotion,” he added. “I’m sure that there will be a lot of former players there to see him in his last game, and so we will definitely have our work cut out for us.”

Beamer has been the coach at Virginia Tech since 1987 and has won 234 games, made 22 bowl appearances, and produced NFL standouts like Michael Vick and DeAngelo Hall along the way. His teams have always been extremely sound on special teams and hard-nosed on defense—which Williams says could present a challenge this week for him and the rest of the dynamic Tar Heel offense.

“That’s always been a great defense,” Williams said about the Hokies. “You can’t look over them because they’re ready. [Defensive coordinator Bud Foster’s] gonna have them ready to go in this game for Frank Beamer and it’s exciting.

“They play [man-to-man coverage]” the senior continued. “They’re gonna make [us] beat them one-on-one, and make competitive catches.”

Part of the Tar Heels’ recent success has come because they have taken care of the football—avoiding turnovers in each of their past three games. That’s something Fedora and his staff have preached all year long.

Frank Beamer's final home game will have the Hokies motivated. (Photo: SI.com)

Frank Beamer’s final home game will have the Hokies motivated. (Photo: SI.com)

But that’s not the only message he’s given to the team that has stayed consistent throughout the season.

“Coastal Division champs, state champs—that’s it,” Fedora said. “I don’t really get into it, I just tell [the players] our goal every week.”

He then added that, “We’re like trained pigs. We’ve got something and we just keep doing it over and over and over.”

That mindset has helped the UNC offense grow into one of the nation’s most dominant, while its defense has been by far the most improved—allowing just 19 points per contest in 2015 after giving up 39 a game just one year ago.

Senior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer—who has been critical to that turnaround–has also not been afraid to tell the truth about what’s been on the minds of the Tar Heel players all week.

“We’re not worried about Frank Beamer’s last home game or any of that,” Schoettmer said. “We control our own destiny to win the Coastal and get to the ACC Championship. So that’s really what we’re worried about.”

Broadcast Information:

The game is set to begin Saturday at noon, and will be broadcast live on WCHL’s radio airwaves (97.9 FM, 1360 AM). It will also be televised on ESPN.

Game Notes:

  • The most wins by a UNC football team in a single season is 11, back in 1997.
  • This team is trying to also become the first Tar Heel group to win a conference title since 1980.
  • Sophomore running back Elijah Hood has 945 rushing yards this season, to go with 12 touchdowns. With 55 more yards, he’d become the first Tar Heel 1,000 yard rusher since Gio Bernard in 2012.



Nine Wins and Counting: UNC Mauls Miami 59-21

Earlier in the week, UNC junior wide receiver Mack Hollins rode his bike around campus yelling, “History week!” to all that passed by–in an effort to get fans to come out to Kenan Stadium and watch the Tar Heel football team attempt to make history against Miami.

On Saturday afternoon, history was indeed made–as UNC stomped the Hurricanes 59-21 for its school record ninth win in a row. It was also the seventh win at home this year for the Tar Heels, which matches the record set by the 1980 team, the last group from Chapel Hill to win a league title.

Now, at 9-1 overall and 6-0 in conference play, the Tar Heels are in complete control of the ACC Coastal Division. To clinch it and reach the ACC Championship Game, they’ll need only one more win, or a loss from Pittsburgh.

Dajaun Drennon and the UNC defense held strong against the Miami starters, shutting them out in the first half. (UNC Athletics)

Dajaun Drennon and the UNC defense held strong against the Miami starters, shutting them out in the first half. (UNC Athletics)

The loss drops Miami to 6-4 in all games, and 3-3 within the ACC.

“We talked all week, this was history week,” UNC head coach Larry Fedora said after the game. “They had an opportunity to make some history today, and be one of only two teams in 125 years to win seven games on that field.

“It was special, and there was a tremendous burden of responsibility to make sure that happened,” he added.

After trading the ball back-and-forth without scoring on the game’s first four drives, the Tar Heels broke through on their third opportunity when senior quarterback Marquise Williams’ scored on a 10-yard touchdown run near the end of the first quarter.

From there, the floodgates were opened–as the Tar Heels continually capitalized on Miami mistakes, including three turnovers and a handful of untimely penalties.

In his final home game, Williams put together a solid two-way performance–completing 11-of-16 throws for 105 yards, while running for another 101. All-in-all the playmaker accounted for four touchdowns in the game, one through the air to tight end Brandon Fritts, and the other three all on the ground.

“This is an incredible place that I’ll never forget” the quarterback said when he reflected on his time in Chapel Hill afterwards. “It’s emotional for me, and bittersweet at the same time. This place made me who I am.

“I came in as a young child that didn’t know anything, and I’ve matured a lot,” he continued. “I’ve grown and I’ve met a lot of great people–and they’ve changed me. This is the best place ever, man.”

On the drive following Williams’ initial score, sophomore tailback Elijah Hood broke through from the goal line for his 12th touchdown of the year. Just a couple minutes later, UNC fell on a botched snap deep in Miami territory to set up a 25-yard Nick Weiler field goal–a kick that put the home team ahead 17-0.

Hood finished the game with 132 yards on 17 carries, including his one-yard touchdown run.

“We don’t take a backseat to no one,” Hood said. “We don’t fear anybody. We know we can make plays, we’re gonna do what we’re gonna do and you’re gonna have to stop us. I think we can play with anybody, for sure.”

After driving the ball close to the red zone following the three-point try, Miami quarterback Brad Kaaya threw a back-breaking interception to senior linebacker Jeff Schoettmer–who ran it all the way down to the opposing 14-yard line.

Williams ran the ball in for a score on the very next play.

Not wanting to be forgotten, junior Tar Heel receiver Ryan Switzer returned a punt 78 yards to the end zone with under a minute left before the break–giving UNC a commanding 31-0 lead.

This came despite the fact that UNC had just 189 total yards of offense in the first half, or three more than Miami had.

In the second half, the Tar Heels came out looking for the jugular–scoring touchdowns on their first four drives after coming out of the locker room.

Miami didn’t score its first points–a 9 yard passing touchdown from Kaaya to Lawrence Cager–until it was already trailing 45-0.

Kaaya finished the game with 326 yards on 24-of-43 passing, as the Tar Heels completely shut down the Hurricanes’ rushing attack–holding them to just 99 yards on 32 attempts.

The tradition all season long for UNC has been to have the backups play the fourth quarter to completion after the starters manhandle the opposition for the first three.

Fedora addresses his team after the game. (UNC Athletics)

Fedora addresses his team after the game. (UNC Athletics)

That was again the case in this game.

In the fourth quarter with the lead way out of reach, Miami added a pair of touchdowns–on a pair of one-yard touchdown runs–but that would be it for the visitors with the once proud football tradition.

Tar Heel backup quarterback Mitch Trubisky led a scoring drive of his own, capped off by a three-yard touchdown run from reserve tailback Charles Brunson. But with the game so far gone, the sophomore helped run out the last five minutes of the clock on the team’s final possession.

As the time reached triple zeroes, the UNC players cheered as they ran onto the field to congratulate their opponents–knowing they had just done something nearly unprecedented in their school’s long history.

“This team’s playing as a team,” Fedora said. “Everybody’s there to pick each other up, [saying] ‘I got your back.’ They’re doing the things that a team does.”

The coach paused for a second before adding, “This is a damn good football team.”

Up Next:

Only two games remain on UNC’s regular season schedule. Next week the team will travel to Blacksburg, Virginia to take on the Virginia Tech Hokies in what will be the final home game for the Hokies’ legendary head coach, Frank Beamer.

Game Notes:

  • UNC’s nine wins are the program’s most since 1997, Mack Brown’s final season as head coach.
  • Saturday marked the second straight week UNC scored at least 30 points in the first half.
  • Including last week’s 66 point outburst against Duke, the Tar Heels have scored 125 points in their past two games–the most in consecutive games in school history.
  • Kicker Nick Weiler has made 16 of his 18 field goal attempts for UNC this year. As a team, the Tar Heels had six all of last year.

Trading Places: UNC and Miami Find Roles Reversed in 2015

When the UNC football team takes the field at Kenan Stadium this Saturday against the Miami Hurricanes it will be a matchup of two teams who have each broken tradition in a big way recently.

An afterthought on the college football landscape for many years, the Tar Heels are 8-1 in 2015, and have won eight games in a row—including an undefeated 5-0 record against conference opponents.

At 17th in this week’s AP Top 25, and 23rd in the College Football Playoff rankings, this UNC team is heading toward uncharted waters.

Just don’t tell that to senior quarterback Marquise Williams.

“We’re still irrelevant,” Williams said after posting a school-record 524 yards of total offense last week against Duke. “We like that. We like being irrelevant. It keeps a chip on our shoulder, and we like to play hard.

Marquise Williams

Marquise Williams and the Tar Heels are just fine flying under the radar. (Photo: Smith Cameron Productions)

“If we continue to just win football games, eventually we’ll be known.”

Miami comes to Chapel Hill at 6-3 overall and 3-2 in the ACC. But the Hurricanes are no longer the perennial national championship contenders they once were.

Former head coach Al Golden was sent packing just under three weeks ago after a 58-0 loss to Clemson—the worst in the school’s history.

However, interim head coach Larry Scott has led the Canes to back-to-back victories over Duke and Virginia since taking over—leading UNC head coach Larry Fedora to hand out some praise at his weekly press conference.

“They definitely have a lot of talent, and they’re playing well,” Fedora said. “I think Larry [Scott]’s doing a good job with them. They’re gaining confidence as they go. I think they have the quarterback back I believe, and so they’re probably feeling pretty good right now.”

Brad Kaaya, Miami’s talented, 6-foot-4 sophomore quarterback, missed the Duke game with an injury. However, he’s thrown for over 2,000 passing yards and put together a touchdown to interception ratio of 12 to three–as he’s been unquestionably the most consistent offensive player for Miami this year.

Defensively, though, this is a group ranked 75th in the nation, giving up 410 yards per game. But looking at the film, Williams says they still have athletes good enough to run with anybody–including the explosive Tar Heels.

“Their defense has got a lot of life,” Williams said. “Big up front, very fast. This is a fast Miami team. You know those Florida boys have always been fast. And they come out and compete.”

The Charlotte native continued by recalling the stranglehold the brash, energetic Miami teams of the 80’s, 90’s and early 2000’s had over young football fans.

“Growing up I was a Hurricane myself,” he said. “It’s gonna be fun to have the opportunity to play against those guys.”

Anyone watching this year has noticed that UNC is the new team on the block making all kinds of noise with its athletic exploits.

Brad Kaaya will present the Tar Heel defense with a stiff challenge. (Getty Images)

Brad Kaaya will present the Tar Heel defense with a stiff challenge. (Getty Images)

As the seniors head into this, their final home game, fifth-year offensive guard Landon Turner reflected on what it’ll mean to play underneath the Kenan Pines one final time–knowing the ACC Coastal Division can be won on Saturday if the Tar Heels beat Miami and Duke beats Pittsburgh.

“I feel comfortable enough with my maturity that I’ll be able to handle that,” Turner said about the emotions surrounding this weekend. “If anything it’ll probably give me a little more motivation, or give me an extra edge—just because I do know after this it’s my last game here.

“It’s been five years, and it’s been a great ride,” he added. “So I wanna go out and leave a legacy.”

Whether they’re ready or not, the Tar Heels are relevant again on the national scene.

The Hurricanes are fighting to get back to that point, and can speed things up by winning out and stealing the Coastal for themselves.

So if Turner and company want to be remembered as the class that re-wrote the narrative on Carolina football, they can start by beating Miami on Saturday.

Broadcast Information:

The game will be carried live on WCHL’s airwaves, and will begin at 3:30 p.m.

Game Notes:

  • UNC is looking to go 7-0 at Kenan Stadium for the first time since 1980, which was also the last time the Tar Heels won the ACC Championship.
  • Miami has won the last two meetings between the schools–winning 27-23 in 2013 and 47-20 last season.
  • Sophomore cornerback MJ Stewart, who was suspended against Wake Forest and Virginia, leads the ACC in passes defended (13) for the UNC pass defense, which ranks third in the nation in yards allowed (158 per game).

Williams Obliterates Duke and the Record Book: UNC Wins 66-31

The way all the jaws were hanging to the floor in Chapel Hill, it almost appeared as if the fans at Kenan Stadium had just seen a ghost–and in some ways they did.

In front of a sell-out crowd on Saturday, the No. 21 UNC football team matched its longest winning streak since 1997 with an emphatic 66-31 blowout over the arch-rival Duke Blue Devils.

Senior quarterback Marquise Williams put together a statistical performance normally only seen in video games–starting with an 89-yard flea flicker touchdown pass to junior Ryan Switzer on the team’s first offensive play.

It was something that the UNC coaches determined they would run right out of the gate if they saw a specific coverage they were looking for.

“If the safety is not gonna fit, you can’t run that play because he can be the backside safety and run over to where the ball’s gonna be placed at,” Williams said after the game. “And I was just praying, I prayed last night before I went to sleep hoping this play is the first play and the safety just fits.

Ryan Switzer breaks away for his game-changing touchdown. (UNC Athletics)

Ryan Switzer breaks away for his game-changing touchdown. (UNC Athletics)

“God answered my prayer,” he added.

From there, the Tar Heels refused to take their foot off the gas pedal, smashing any and every record they could get their hands on before the clock hit triple zeroes.

Having obviously eaten his Wheaties before the game, Williams completed 23-of-35 passes for 494 yards–a new school record–and accounted for five touchdowns in all. He also rushed for 30 yards, to finish with 524 total yards by himself–the first Tar Heel to ever break the 500 yard mark–in what was arguably the best performance ever by a UNC football player.

“Quise was on the money with it today,” Tar Heel head coach Larry Fedora said. “He did a really nice job. We got length on the outside, we got great quickness on the outside, so we’ve got great weapons in that area.”

UNC has now racked up eight consecutive wins, and has its fifth straight victory to begin ACC play. At 8-1 overall and 5-0 against conference opponents, Fedora has his squad sitting firmly atop the league’s Coastal Division.

Duke, meanwhile, has now lost two games in a row–dropping to 6-3 in all games, and 3-2 in conference play.

Coming into Saturday, the Blue Devils boasted the nation’s ninth ranked defense–a unit surrendering just 295 yards of offense per game.

But Williams and his uber-athletic group of receivers made scoring against the Duke secondary look like child’s play.

Along with Switzer’s crowd pleasing flea flicker touchdown, the Tar Heels scored in the first half on a 79-yard rainbow from Williams to Mack Hollins, and on a 49-yard dart to Bug Howard–a play that made the score 38-10 with just one second remaining before halftime.

MJ Stewart tackles Duke's Max McCaffrey. (UNC Athletics)

MJ Stewart tackles Duke’s Max McCaffrey. (UNC Athletics)

Hollins set a career-high with 5 catches for 165 yards, while Switzer also broke the century mark–ending the game with 107 yards on 5 receptions. Howard caught three balls for 83 yards, nearly making it three receivers above the 100-yard threshold.

Star running back Elijah Hood scored three times on 17 carries, gaining 69 yards. His main contributions came as a blocker, though, picking up the blitz on a couple of Williams’ long touchdown throws.

“We feed off explosive plays, and we’re an explosive offense,” Hood said. “So one big play, and you’re bound for more, I think, with us.”

At halftime, UNC had already amassed 486 yards of total offense–before eventually finishing with 704. It’s just the third time in school history that the Tar Heels have reached the 700-yard plateau.

The Blue Devils found success running the ball against Gene Chizik’s defense with running backs Shaquille Powell (13 carries for 98 yards) and Jela Duncan (13 carries for 115 yards)–but simply could not keep up with the Tar Heels’ break-neck scoring pace.

Duncan’s 52-yard touchdown run in the second quarter brought the score to 21-10. That was the closest it would get the rest of the game.

“I heard one of the [Duke players] tell [Ryan] Switzer, ‘This is gonna be a long day,'” Williams said. “I started laughing when I heard a guy said that. I told Coach [Fedora], ‘We gotta keep going, we gotta keep going. The guy’s already feeling like this is gonna be a long game for ’em, so let’s keep going.'”

Duke quarterback Thomas Sirk struggled with his accuracy, completing just 18 of his 37 throws for 191 yards and two interceptions on the day. He did do some damage of his own in the running game, however, scrambling eight times for 74 yards–including a pair of touchdown scampers in the third quarter, one from 53 yards out and another from four yards away.

The 2015 group gets to hold on to the Victory Bell for another year. (UNC Athletics)

The 2015 group gets to hold on to the Victory Bell for another year. (UNC Athletics)

UNC continued to show no mercy, however, as Elijah Hood ran in two scores of his own in the quarter. Williams also found senior Quinshad Davis during the frame to make it four touchdown passes to four different receivers.

As has become the norm this season when the Tar Heels play at home, the fourth quarter was strictly a formality.

The backups, led by sophomore quarterback Mitch Trubisky, played out the final period–but not without getting in on the fun.

Trubisky ran in a score from two yards out to put UNC above the 60-point mark, the first time it has hit that total this season.

For the second straight year, the Victory Bell will reside in Chapel Hill–much to the delight of Mack Hollins and the rest of the Tar Heel team.

“All week at practice, the bell was [there],” Hollins said. “I was big into screaming, ‘Duke Week’ and ‘Ring my bell’, and all that stuff. So to have it on our sideline after, and to know that it’s ours for a whole ‘nother 365 [days] is a great feeling.”

Up Next:

The red-hot Tar Heels will play their final home game of the year next Saturday against Miami. As it stands right now, UNC controls its own destiny in the ACC Coastal Division, and is in the driver’s seat for a spot in the ACC Championship Game in Charlotte.

Game Notes:

  • Marquise Williams’ 4-yard touchdown run in the first quarter was his 80th touchdown accounted for in a Carolina uniform, moving him past former quarterback Darian Durant (2001-2004) for the UNC school record in that category.
  • It took UNC just 2:01 with the ball to score its first two touchdowns.
  • The Tar Heels scored points on 10 of their 13 drives, and their 66 points were the most they’ve ever scored in an ACC game.