CHAPEL HILL – When North Carolina gets in going they can be downright scary good.
Forget for a second they turned the ball over twice in the opening quarter and trailed 7-0 to Wake Forest after the opening 15 minutes. What happened over the next 45 minutes was almost perfect football for the Heels. Little went wrong for UNC as they improved to 5-1 for the first time since 2011 and remain a perfect 2-0 in league play after a 50-14 win over Wake Forest.
North Carolina exploded for 29 points in the second quarter, and were never seriously threaten the rest of the way. The Heels cooled down in the second half, but still showed a flair for a quick strike offense when needed.
Carolina’s first three touchdown drives just took 2:49 seconds off the clock when the Heels only ran 11 plays.
That burst broke the game wide open as the Heels amassed 538 yards of total offense, its second-highest total this season.
“Our guys are playing well right now,” UNC coach Larry Fedora said. “They feel good about themselves. The chemistry, the love they have for each other, it’s fun to coach this team.”
Fedora is probably having fun coaching this team because this team is playing fast, just like he wants. Not only are they playing fast, they are hitting on big plays. Carolina averaged almost a first down each play, and struck big by land and air. Elijah Hood had a long run of 36 yards on his way to a 101-yard night, while quarterback Marquise Williams broke free for a long 33-yard run in the first half.
Through the air, though, Carolina racked up some frequent flyer miles, with Williams finishing with 282 passing yards, 103 of them going to Mack Hollins, who finished with three catches, all going for touchdowns.
“We did start fast like we wanted to but we finally started to click,” Williams said. “The offense knew they couldn’t stop us, we were just stopping ourselves.”
Once Carolina got out of its own way, there wasn’t much Wake Forest (3-4, 1-3) could do. The Heels gained 10 yards or more on 20 of its 59 plays from scrimmage. Those 20 plays gained 413 yards. Carolina finished with seven touchdowns – four coming on drives of less than one minute. Six of the drives were under two minutes, with the longest drives being 2:37.
“We had quite a few explosive plays tonight,” Fedora said. “We didn’t have the ball very much – 22 minutes I think – so those are pretty explosive plays.”
Sophomore running back Elijah Hood complimented the air attack by finishing with 101 yards on the ground, averaging 12.6 yards per carry. It was his third 100-yard rushing game this season.
Game changer – Wake Forest led 7-0 after one quarter of play. Then North Carolina exploded. The Tar Heels had a 29-point second quarter and did it quickly. Once Carolina put its foot on the gas, there was no stopping them. The Tar Heels first three touchdown drives combined lasted 11 plays for 174 total yards. The most important part – it took just 2:49 off the clock. The fast pace Heels were too much for the Deacons’ defense.
Stick with it – Throwing the ball down the field. Carolina has plenty of weapons on offense, in the backfield and on the edges. Once again, they took advantage of their horses – Marquise Williams, Elijah Hood, Mack Hollins. If they stick with that formula, the Heels should be hard to stop.
Get rid of it – Not much. Carolina did have two turnovers, one a tip pass that was intercepted, but other than that, little went wrong for the Heels.
Numbers don’t lie:
583 – Carolina’s total yards, 212 coming on the ground.
9.1 – Average number of yards per play for the Heels.
76 – The number of touchdowns Williams is responsible for in his career, which makes him three shy of a school record.
Mack Hollins, North Carolina – The junior wideout finished with three catches, all touchdowns. The first Heel to have three TD catches in a game since 2011. He finished with 103 receiving yards, his longest TD covering 57 yards.
Marquise Williams, North Carolina – Williams shook off two first quarter interceptions, and finished with 282 yards and three scores. He also rushed for a 13-yard score.
Austin Proehl, North Carolina – Talk about a breakout game, Proehl, the sophomore receiver from Charlotte, finished with two receptions for 94 yards. He had a career long 61 yard catch in the first half to set up a score.