There was a lot of hype coming into the matchup between the Tar Heels and Wolfpack. Saturday marked just the third occurrence that both teams are ranked nationally in a head-to-head meeting – UNC is ranked 14th and NC State is ranked 23rd. But the rankings didn’t mean much when the ball was snapped. The Heels jumped out to a 14-0 lead and never looked back – defeating the Wolfpack 48-21.
UNC quarterback Sam Howell finished completing 18 of 29 passes for 252 yards, but it was the Heels ground attack that carried them to victory. UNC out-rushed the Wolfpack 326 to 34. Javonte Williams was the game’s leading rusher with 160 yards on 19 attempts and 3 touchdowns. Michael Carter added 106 yards on 17 carries and a touchdown of his own.
“I think they’re probably the best combination of two backs in the country,” UNC Coach Mack Brown said after the game. “They’re tough, they’re smart, they protect the ball, they run with power, they both have patience and no one has tackled them on a consistent basis all year. When we get them going, the rest of it works.”
After the contest Javonte Williams attributed their success to the offensive line and coaching.
“We’ve got a good connection with those guys. They did a great job today blocking and communicating. The coaches had a great scheme and we did a good job executing.”
NC State head coach Dave Doeren said their defense, that has been stout against the run in the past, simply did a poor job tackling.
“I think what happens during the course of the game, is you’re fitting things well and then you don’t. Then as a coordinator you start calling different things to stop it and then as a player you start trying to do someone else’s job…It doesn’t matter what you call, if you have unblocked players at the ball and you miss the tackle, it’s not going to be a good defense.”
The Wolfpack were without starting quarterback Devin Leary, who broke his fibula in last week’s win over Duke. Red shirt junior Bailey Hockman got the start and true freshman Ben Finley also got some burn, but neither got the consistent rhythm needed to turn the game around.
The Tar Heels will travel to Charlottesville to take on UVA next week, while the Pack will have its lone bye of the season.
- NC State’s 34 rushing yards were the fewest allowed by the Tar Heels since holding Rutgers to one yard on Sept. 10, 2011.
- Carolina is 3-0 against NC State when both teams are ranked in the AP poll (also wins in 1979 and 1993).
- Carolina has accumulated more than 400 yards of total offense in each of its last 13 games. Today, the Tar Heels gained 578 total offense yards, while NC State managed 392. UNC has posted 550-plus yards of total offense in three straight games for the first time in at least 50 years, dating back to existing records that begin in 1971.
- The 27-point victory over No. 23 NC State is UNC’s largest win over an AP-ranked opponent since a 38-3 win over No. 13 Clemson in 2001. This is UNC’s third-largest win ever over a ranked team (also a 41-9 win over No. 6 Florida State in 2001).
- The Pack’s 358 yards passing were the most for a Pack team since the 2018 regular season finale against East Carolina (421).
- Williams and Carter are the fourth pair of Tar Heels to rush for 100 yards in a game against NC State. The others were Logan and Hood in 2015; Ethan Horton and William Humes in 1984; and Ike Oglesby and Don McCauley in 1970.