Chat: UNC routs Elon 62-0
Posted August 30, 2012
Updated September 1, 2012
Chapel Hill, N.C. — Final: 62-0 UNC
Both teams run out the clock, and this game finally comes to a close. UNC was dominant throughout in all three areas of the game.
62-0 UNC, Final
Not much to report on here. Both teams are taking the air out of the ball and seem to be playing for the locker room. The UNC defense continues to be stingy as it has been all day.
62-0 UNC, 8:32 4th Q
An Elon fumble and an A.J. Blue touchdown help push UNC's lead to 62-0 against Elon. The Tar Heels keep pouring it on.
62-0 UNC, :43 3rd Q
UNC's defense makes a big stop inside Elon's own 10 and Erik Highsmith returns a punt to the 11 to set up a scoring run by backup quarterback Marquise Williams. Five of UNC's six scoring drives have taken 1:26 or less.
55-0 UNC, 2:45 3rd Q
UNC forces Elon to punt and scores another touchdown when Renner finds tight end Jack Tabb open in the red zone.
48-0 UNC, 10:51 3rd Q
A.J. Blue punches it in for UNC from the one-yard line for another touchdown just before halftime. A Tim Scott interception gave the Tar Heels the ball on the 13 to start the drive.
41-0 UNC, :24 2nd Q
Another Casey Barth field goal adds to UNC's lead. In other news, reports are coming that Bernard is out of the game with discomfort in his left knee. Can't really tell if it's a big injury or just precautionary due to the lead, but we'll try to find out.
34-0 UNC, 2:37 2nd Q
Renner finds Jheranie Boyd open in the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown pass. First time Renner has found a receiver deep this game, but now that he has, the rout is on.
31-0 UNC, 9:48 2nd Q
Gio Bernard explodes for yet another touchdown. He took his second punt return for 70 yards to the house. Bernard now has 193 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns in just more than a quarter of play.
24-0 UNC, 12:16 2nd Q
UNC gets down to the four, but has to settle for a Casey Barth field goal.
17-0 UNC, 13:16 2nd Q
A long pass play from Renner to tight end Eric Ebron ends this first quarter. UNC has looked crisp so far, while Elon has struggled to put long drives together. The one time the Phoenix got into the redzone, a tipped ball resulted in a UNC interception.
14-0 UNC, End of 1st Q
Gio Bernard gets into the end zone again, this time making the catch and dragging a defender with him. UNC's offense has been fast and efficient so far. That nine-play, 59-yard scoring drive took just more than three minutes.
14-0 UNC, 4:45 1st Q
Both UNC's and Elon's first drives stall out, but running back Giovani Bernard takes a toss to the house on the Tar Heels' second drive of the game. The 59-yard rush was the second-longest of his career.
7-0 UNC, 9:34 1st Q
Larry Fedora knows exactly what to expect when he leads North Carolina for the first time as its head coach Saturday against Elon.
"I couldn't be any more excited," Fedora said. "But this is ... something I've been doing for 26 years, and I can tell you I have the same knot in my stomach — it's way down low right now — that I have every game week since I was a player, and it'll move all the way up to my throat by kickoff. That hasn't changed and I hope it never does."
Fedora inherits a program trying to move forward from a tumultuous two-year period due to an NCAA investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct. The Tar Heels opened the 2010 season under Butch Davis, then opened last year under interim coach Everett Withers after the school fired Davis just before training camp.
The players are hoping Fedora's arrival marks the beginning of some stability in the program, which is coming off a seven-win season that ended with a loss to Missouri in the Independence Bowl. They already know they won't be eligible for a bowl this year due to NCAA sanctions in Fedora's debut season.
"They're hungry," Fedora said. "They've been hungry for someone to care about them. They're hungry for something positive to happen in their lives. They've been eager to please. They want to do things the way we ask them to do it."
That's meant adopting the no-huddle spread offense and 4-2-5 defense that Fedora brought with him from Southern Mississippi, where he led the Golden Eagles to the Conference USA championship. It also meant moving at the never-stop pace that Fedora and his staff preached to the players.
"It's a transition for everybody, the fans included," junior quarterback Bryn Renner said. "I think they're going to be excited to come out here and see us play. We're going to run a lot of plays so hopefully there's going to be a lot of buzz and excitement. I know (Fedora) has a lot of energy and I know I have a lot of energy for this Saturday, so I'm looking forward to it."
For Elon coach Jason Swepson, preparing for the new-look Tar Heels has meant a lot of film study. Some of it was of UNC's players from last year. Some was of Southern Miss last year to understand the schemes. Some was from Illinois, where associate head coach for defense Vic Koenning coached last year.
"It's been difficult, but as a coach, usually that first game is that way because of turnover in the profession," said Swepson, a former assistant at UNC's rival North Carolina State. "It's been a lot of fun. Our kids are excited. Obviously we've got North Carolina kids, they've got North Carolina kids and I'm sure they played against each other in high school and some of them were on the same teams."
Elon, a Championship Subdivision program coming off a 5-6 season in Swepson's first year, had plenty of scoring potential in senior receiver Aaron Mellette and senior quarterback Thomas Wilson. Mellette set a Southern Conference single-season record with 1,639 yards receiving to go with 12 touchdowns. Wilson threw for 3,057 yards and 23 touchdowns while starting all 11 games.
Elon's defense also returns nine starters from a unit hoping to improve from allowing almost 33 points per game.
"I have no comfort level at this point in a season, I assure you, with anything," Fedora said. "I have trouble sleeping every night, but I guess that's a good thing. I think we're where we should be probably at this time in the year and I'm anxious to see how we perform on game day."