Blog: Big 3rd quarter lifts UNC past Liberty 56-29
Posted August 29
Updated August 30
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — FINAL: UNC 56, Liberty 29; North Carolina scored four times in less than four minutes late in the 3rd quarter as they stormed in front of Liberty in a 56-29 win in the season opener for both teams at Kenan Stadium. Marquise Williams and Mitch Trubisky split time at quarterback, combining for three touchdowns and overcoming three interceptions.
1:16 4th quarter: Charles Brunson scored on a 2-yard touchdown run. Carolina leading 56-29.
10:16 3rd quarter: Todd Macon scored on a 1-yard run. Carolina still leads 49-29.
End of 3rd quarter: Carolina leads 49-22
2:06 3rd quarter: Mitch Trubisky throws to Jack Tabb for 4 yards and a touchdown. Carolina continues to blaze past Liberty with a 49-22 lead. This is Trubisky's first career touchdown pass.
3:47 3rd quarter: Marquise Williams had a 15-yard touchdown run bringing Carolina to a 42-22 lead. This is William's second rushing TD today. Carolina has scored 21 points in the last 2:08 on the clock.
5:42 3rd quarter: On Liberty's next offensive play, Jeff Schoettmer picked off the pass and went for a 19-yard interception for a touchdown return. This was Schoettmer's first career interception and touchdown. Tar Heels lead 35-22. Two touchdowns for UNC in 13 seconds.
5:55 3rd quarter: UNC scored a touchdown on a 33-yard pass from Marquise Williams to Mack Hollins. UNC takes the lead 28-22. Hollin's was the Tar Heels special teams captain last year as a freshman.
9:25 3rd quarter: Jacob Hagen for Liberty returned a fumble 27 yards for a touchdown. Play was reviewed but stands. Liberty now leads 22-21
Halftime: Carolina leads 21-15.
:32 2nd quarter: Marquise Williams scored on a 3-yard touchdown run. Nick Weiler's first career PAT is good and Carolina leads 21-15.
1:46 2nd quarter: Liberty scored on a 2-yard run by D.J. Abnar giving the Flames the lead 15-14. They went for a 2-point conversion but it was no good.
5:09 2nd quarter: A poor snap by Carolina and Tommy Hibbard kicked it out of the end zone giving Liberty a safety and bringing the game to 14-9. The bad snap resulted in a 33-yard rushing loss for the Tar Heels.
8:17 2nd quarter: Thomas Moore had a 44-yard field goal attempt but it was no good.
End of 1st quarter: Carolina leads Liberty 14-7
3:22 1st quarter: Trubisky found Romar Morris on a 1- yard run to score a touchdown. Morris came off a 2 touchdown performance in the bowl game a year ago. 14-7 Tar Heels.
4:17 1st quarter: Trubisky went in as QB and completed his first college pass for 7 yards followed by a second pass for 14 yards and tacked on a 15-yard Liberty penalty.
4:44 1st quarter: Liberty scored on a 1-yard run and tacked on the PAT to tie the game at 7-7. First career touchdown for Todd Macon.
9:02 1st quarter: A Liberty drive stopped after Tim Scott forced a fumble and Green recovered. Tar Heels gave it right back on an interception immediately after.
11:25 1st quarter: Marquise Williams found Bug Howard on a 6-yard touchdown pass. Marquise was 5 for 5 passing on the drive. The PAT was good by Thomas Moore giving UNC the lead 7-0.
15:00 1st quarter: UNC vs. Liberty. After many questions throughout the week, UNC will start Marquise Williams. UNC will kickoff to start the game.
The week started at North Carolina with the focus on who would start at quarterback for the No. 23 Tar Heels in Saturday night's opener (6 p.m., ESPN3) against Liberty.
By midweek, however, the attention had shifted to the suspension of four defensive players — a moment that overshadowed the preseason optimism for a team aiming to play for the Atlantic Coast Conference championship.
"You know me, I worry about every kind of thing that could be a distraction," Fedora said. "But I know we've got a large amount of players on this football team that have worked their rear ends off for a long point to get to this point.
"It would be a shame and a tragedy to let any kind of distraction to keep you from playing at your best. So that's my job, is to make sure that doesn't happen."
Fedora announced Wednesday that sophomores Des Lawrence and Brian Walker, redshirt freshman Donnie Miles and true freshman M.J. Stewart were suspended for one game due to a "violation of team policy."
The suspensions came a day after a Yahoo Sports report of an alleged hazing altercation that left a redshirt freshman walk-on receiver with a possible concussion. The school has said it is investigating what it described as an incident involving team members, though it hasn't confirmed it was a hazing incident.
Walker and Lawrence were scheduled to start at cornerback against the Flames. The suspensions will force adjustments in the secondary against an experienced quarterback in junior Josh Woodrum, who has started 21 straight games and threw for 2,581 yards and 19 touchdowns last year.
Fedora hasn't said whether junior Marquise Williams or redshirt freshman Mitch Trubisky will start at quarterback for the Tar Heels. Williams started six games last year and helped spark UNC's turnaround from a 1-5 start to finish with a bowl win.
Liberty coach Turner Gill said the uncertainty of who will start hasn't affected his team.
"We understand their offense and what they do," Gill said. "Yeah, one guy may throw or run a little bit more than the other. But we're all protected and schemed up to be ready to play whichever quarterback goes."
Things to watch when the Tar Heels host the Flames:
UNC'S QB USAGE: Fedora is big on using competition to push players and used two quarterbacks for much of last season, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see both Williams and Trubisky get significant reps. "We've got two guys on our team that have responded to every bit of that challenge," quarterbacks coach Keith Heckendorf said. "They both deserve opportunities to play, they both deserve opportunities to start."
SPECIAL TEAMS: North Carolina receiver Ryan Switzer tied an NCAA single-season record by returning five punts for touchdowns last season, while tailback T.J. Logan returned two kickoffs for scores. Gill said that return ability is "probably keeping us up a little bit at night" and the championship subdivision Flames can't afford to let UNC's returners get loose.
FLAMES' NEW RUNNER: With last year's leading rusher out for the year with a knee injury, junior D.J. Abnar is expected to make his first career start for Liberty. He ran for 411 yards and six scores last year. "I know he's going to be overly excited," Gill said, "so it'll be more about us trying to tone him down a little bit and making sure he stays focused on what he needs to do on each and every play."
TEMPO: Liberty had one of the Big South Conference's best defenses last year, but the Flames are facing a no-huddle offense that loves to push the tempo. Gill said slowing the Tar Heels will be as much about the offense sustaining drives as it is about the defense getting stops.
UNC'S EXPECTATIONS: The Tar Heels are ranked to start the season for the first time since 2010. How will they handle the higher expectations that come with the ranking? "It's going to be exciting to play with that ranking beside our name," receiver Ryan Switzer said, "and keep it on there for the entirety of the year."
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