Blog: UNC downs Middle Tennessee State 40-20 in home opener
Posted September 7, 2013
Chapel Hill, N.C. — FINAL: UNC 40, Middle Tennessee State 20: The North Carolina Tar Heels improved to 1-1 on the season by defeating Middle Tennessee State 40-20 Saturday in their home opener. The UNC defense intercepted three Blue Raiders passes while the offense accumulated over 500 yards in the win.
:25 4th; UNC 40, MTSU 20: Middle Tennessee adds a garbage time TD. UNC lead now stands 40-20 with 25 seconds to play.
2:24 4th; UNC 40, MTSU 13: With the lead well in-hand, backup quarterback Marquise Williams entered the game and connected with freshman wide receiver Bug Howard for another UNC touchdown. The Tar Heels went over 500 yards of offense on the day with the catch.
11:16 4th; UNC 33, MTSU 13: Quinshad Davis was on the receiving end of an 18-yard TD pass from Bryn Renner and UNC is up 33-13 with 11:16 to play.
Renner is now up to 346 yards passing with the one score. The touchdown was Davis' second catch of the game.
12:54 4th; UNC 26, MTSU 13: A fumble by UNC's Ryan Switzer is returned for a MTSU touchdown and the Blue Raiders are within two scores, even with a failed two-point conversion attempt.
End of 3rd: UNC 26, MTSU 7: UNC has outgained MTSU 372-242 through three quarters and is winning the turnover battle 3-1. Thus, the Tar Heels hold a 26-7 edge on the scoreboard after three complete in Chapel Hill.
3:06 3rd; UNC 26, MTSU 7: Thomas Moore connected on a 35-yard field goal to add to the Tar Heels' lead. They now hold a 26-7 edge on MTSU with three minutes to play in the third quarter.
10:36 3rd; UNC 23, MTSU 7: Middle Tennessee State gets on the board as Jordan Parker goes up the gut for a 22-yard rushing score and the Blue Raiders have trimmed the UNC lead to 23-7.
MTSU was essentially handed an extra possession as they received the ball to open both halves. The Blue Raiders won the opening toss and deferred to get the ball in the 2nd half. The Tar Heels then elected to choose a side at the toss and MTSU got the ball to start the game as well.
HALF: UNC 23, MTSU 0: Thomas Moore connected on a 39-yd field goal as time expired in the 1st half andUNC goes to the break with 23-0 lead on Middle Tennessee State.
Through 30 minutes of play, UNC holds a 326-99 advantage in total yards and leads the turnover battle 2-1.
4:31 1st; UNC 20, MTSU 0: Romar Morris scored his second TD of the 1st half, this one from 1 yard, and UNC's lead has grown to 20-0.
UNC has gained 224 of their 280 yards through the air, but punched in all three scores via the rush. The Tar Heels have five different players with receptions of over 20 yards in the first half.
:15 1st; UNC 13, MTSU 0: A 59-yard completion to Mark McNeil was the big play on UNC's second scoring drive of the first quarter that ended on a 4th down sneak by Bryn Renner from the 1-yard line.
6:55 1st; UNC 6, MTSU 0: UNC gets on the board first with a 26-yard TD run by Romar Morris who hit the edge on the far side, broke a tackle and found space. The Tar Heels' 2-pt. conversion attempt was no good.
Morris had three carries on the drive for 32 yards and the score. Bryn Renner was 2-for-2 passing including a 21-yard completion to Eric Ebron.
9:15 1st; MTSU 0, UNC 0: Middle Tennessee marched down the field on UNC in the game's opening drive, but after going 68 yards in 14 plays, Tre Boston intercepted a 3rd and goal pass by Logan Kilgore in the end zone.
The Blue Raiders had a touchdown wiped off the board after a review and the Tar Heels were able to post a goalline stand.
MTSU has converted their first three 3rd downs, but were hurt by two offensive penalities.
15:00 1st, UNC vs. MTSU: Middle Tennessee STate will start with the ball moving right to left from the press box in front of a late-arriving crowd at Kenan Stadium. UNC is donning the all-Carolina Blue uniforms.
Following a loss to a top-10 SEC team in their season-opener, the North Carolina Tar Heels return home Saturday to battle Middle Tennessee State at Kenan Memorial Stadium.
The game is scheduled to kickoff at 12:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on CW22.
The Tar Heels did battle with their neighbors from south of the border in a marquee Thursday night matchup in week one but were dismissed, 27-10, by then No. 6 South Carolina. The loss was the first for UNC in an opener since 2010 when the Tar Heels fell, 30-24 to LSU.
North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora knew he had a tough task in getting his normally potent offense to get off to a fast start against a tough South Carolina defense led by Heisman contender Jadeveon Clowney. The test proved to be as advertised as the Tar Heels managed just 293 total yards and 3.7 yards per play. Last season, the Tar Heels averaged 291.8 yards per game through the air alone.
Bryn Renner, who threw for 3,356 yards in 2012, complete 26-of-43 pass attempts for 194 yards and a touchdown, while being sacked three times. Renner's lack of consistency in completing passes was uncommon considering he had a career completion percentage of 66.7 entering the year.
Replacing multi-talented running back Giovanni Bernard proved to be a challenge as well. Bernard, who accounted for over 1,700 yards of total offense last season, is now in the NFL. Romar Morris and A.J. Blue are the two backs tasked with taking over. Morris had a team-high 69 yards on 15 carries and Blue added 36 yards on eight touches against the Gamecocks.
Though it took him more passes than Fedora may have wanted, Renner still had 26 completions and spread them to 10 different receivers. Quinshad Davis was the top target as he tied for a team-high with four receptions for a team-high 39 yards and a score.
No one accused North Carolina of being a stout defensive squad last season as the Tar Heels posted middle of the road numbers in comparison to the rest of the ACC. Against South Carolina, even with seven returning starters, North Carolina still looked average on the defensive side.
In the losing effort the Tar Heels gave up 406 total yards, including 228 yards on the ground. North Carolina was somewhat successful on third down as the Gamecocks converted on just 5-of-14 attempts.
Leading the Tar Heels on defense was Travis Hughes and Tre Boston. Norkeithus Otis had the best game in terms of rushing the passer as he recorded a sack and two quarterback hits to go with five total tackles. Otis' sack was one of just three tackles for loss by the Tar Heels.
Middle Tennessee got off to a more auspicious start, albeit against a weaker opponent. The Blue Raiders hosted FCS foe Western Carolina and posted a 45-24 victory in the opener. The new members of Conference USA were also an 8-4 squad last season, when they were still in the Sun Belt.
Saturday's meeting the first between the Tar Heels and Blue Raiders.
Balance in yardage was the key for the Blue Raiders on the offensive side of the ball in the win over Western Carolina. Middle Tennessee picked up 475 yards of total offense, a nice jump from the 392.8 it averaged last season. The yardage was fairly evenly split with 270 coming on the ground and 205 through the air.
Jordan Parker was the workhorse out of the backfield for the Blue Raiders. Parker had 22 carries for 156 yards, including a 65-yard touchdown run early on the first play from scrimmage. The 156 yards from Parker were a career- high. William Pratcher added 71 yards and two scores on 10 carries.
With the running game humming along, quarterback Logan Kilgore didn't need to do much more than keep the defense honest with his passing. Kilgore completed 12-of-18 pass attempts for 144 yards and a touchdown before giving way to Austin Grammer after suffering a shoulder injury. Grammer completed 7-of-9 attempts for 61 yards and also scored on a 10-yard touchdown run.
It remains to be seen if Kilgore will be able to start in this contest but if not Grammer certainly showed he is capable of stepping in.