Sep 10, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels tight end Kamari Morales (88) runs for a touchdown after a catch against the Georgia State Panthers in the first half at Center Parc Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina overcomes three turnovers to edge Georgia State

Quarterback Drake Maye threw for 284 yards and North Carolina overcame three turnovers to hold off Georgia State 35-28 on Saturday in Atlanta.

Maye completed 19 of 24 passes with one interception and two touchdowns and Omarion Hampton ran 16 times for 110 yards and two touchdowns, including the go-ahead score with 10:42 left in the game.

Georgia State had three possessions after North Carolina (3-0) took the lead but had to punt each time.

Georgia State quarterback Darren Grainger was 16-for-24 for 184 yards and three touchdowns and ran 18 times for 75 yards. Robert Lewis caught seven passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns.

Georgia State (0-2) has lost both its games to Power Five opposition.

The Tar Heels scored on their first possession when Maye found tight end Kamari Morales for a 55-yard catch and run touchdown. Georgia State answered with a 45-yard field goal by Michael Hayes to cut the lead to 7-3.

North Carolina scored two straight touchdowns, a 7-yard run by D.J. Jones and a 28-yard pass from Maye to Kobe Paysour. Georgia State cut the lead to 21-10 on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Grainger to Kris Byrd.

Georgia State had one more chance before halftime when UNC gambled on fourth-and-2 at its own 39 and Maye was sacked by Jontrey Hunter. But the Panthers were unable to move the ball and Hayes had his 44-yard field goal try blocked by Myles Murphy.

Georgia State scored 18 straight points to start the third quarter. Lewis caught a 49-yard pass from Grainger, Hayes kicked a 45-yard field goal and Lewis caught a 29-yard pass. The two-point conversion pass to Jamari Thrash gave GSU a 28-21 lead with 2:04 left in the third quarter.

North Carolina answered by scoring in four plays, with Hampton breaking the line and running for a 58-yard touchdown with 33 seconds left in the third to tie the game at 28-28.

The game marked the first time an opponent from a Power Five conference had played at Georgia State since the program began in 2010

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Boone, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) dives into the end zone for the two point conversion attempt pursued by Appalachian State Mountaineers linebacker Nick Hampton (9) during the second half at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

After wild win, North Carolina hits road again to play Georgia St.

North Carolina will make a road trip into the Sun Belt Conference for the second straight week on Saturday, this time going to Atlanta to play Georgia State.

The Tar Heels (2-0) are coming off a wild 63-61 win over Appalachian State. Georgia State (0-1) will try to bounce back from a 35-14 loss at South Carolina.

The two teams played last year, with North Carolina taking a 59-17 win in Chapel Hill.

“This is going to be a really good team,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. “I don’t know when — I hope sooner than later — but it’s got a lot of young guys out there. Got to play the ball better on defense and keep getting better.”

North Carolina’s main problem is on defense. The Tar Heels allowed 40 points to Appalachian State in the fourth quarter alone and came within an overthrown two-point conversion pass of being taken to overtime. They allowed 649 total yards, 288 of that coming on the ground.

The ground game is where Georgia State excels. The Panthers have four returning starters on the offensive line and two returning all-conference running backs in honorable mention Jamyest Williams, who ran for 76 of Georgia State’s 200 yards against South Carolina, and Tucker Gregg.

The Panthers allowed two punts blocked for touchdowns and fell for a fake punt that led to another touchdown.

“I think offensively and defensively we played those guys right to a tee, if not a little bit better,” Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said. “There were positives coming out of that contest, but winning was not one of the positives, unfortunately.”

The North Carolina offense is led by quarterback Drake Maye. He threw for 352 yards and four touchdowns and ran for 76 yards and one touchdown against Appalachian State. Caleb Hood rushed for 87 yards and the Tar Heels had 567 total yards.

The Georgia State defense came up with three sacks, seven tackles for loss and six quarterback hurries. Cornerback Quavian White intercepted two passes.

–Field Level Media

Sep 3, 2022; Boone, North Carolina, USA;Appalachian State Mountaineers wide receiver Christian Wells (9) cannot catch a pass while defended by North Carolina Tar Heels defensive back Storm Duck (3) during the first quarter at Kidd Brewer Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

North Carolina holds off Appalachian State, 63-61

North Carolina stopped a pair of two-point conversions in the game’s final minute to hold off host Appalachian State 63-61 in a wild in-state affair on Saturday afternoon in Boone, N.C.

Tied at 49 after the Tar Heels once led 41-21 after three quarters, North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye found D.J. Jones wide open on a 42-yard catch-and-run with 2:50 to play for a 56-49 lead.

But Appalachian State quarterback Chase Brice guided the Mountaineers (0-1) to their fifth touchdown of the fourth quarter — a 28-yard pass to Dashaun Davis — to trim the deficit to 56-55.

Deciding to go for the win, the home side had Davis open in the end zone on the ensuing two-point conversion, but Brice overthrew him.

UNC (2-0) added another score when Bryson Nesbit returned the ensuing onside kick 43 yards, but Brice tossed a score to Kaedin Robinson to get it to two points with nine seconds left.

However, the visitors finally locked down the win when Brice was dragged down short on Appalachian State’s second two-point attempt in the last minute.

Maye went 24-of-36 passing for 352 yards with four TD passes to D.J. Jones, J.J. Jones, Kobe Paysour and Nesbit. George Pettaway, Omarion Hampton and Maye rushed for scores.

The Atlantic Coast Conference school played without top wide receiver Josh Downs (knee). The 2021 All-ACC selection caught 101 passes for 1,335 yards in 2021.

The Mountaineers saw Brice go 25-of-37 for 376 yards and six touchdowns. Nate Noel rushed for a game-high 116 yards on 14 carries with two scores, and Camerun Peoples tacked on one score.
Christian Wells, Henry Pearson, Miller Gibbs, Christian Horn, Davis and Robinson had TD receptions.

Before a venue record of 40,168 fans for UNC’s first visit to Kidd-Brewer Stadium, the third meeting between the in-state schools unfolded at a breakneck pace.

Down 21-7 in the opening minute of the second quarter, UNC rolled up 28 unanswered points over a span of 12:35 for a 35-21 edge.

Maye scored on a run to start the second half, and Noah Burnette tacked on field goals from 47 and 44 yards for 34 consecutive points as the Tar Heels built a commanding 41-21 lead before having to hang on in the frantic fourth quarter.

–Field Level Media

Aug 27, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;North Carolina Tar Heels receiver Josh Downs (11) catches a touchdown pass during the second half against the Florida A&M Rattlers at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: UNC WR Josh Downs not playing Saturday

North Carolina star receiver Josh Downs will miss Saturday’s game at Appalachian State, multiple outlets reported.

The junior has a lower body injury and did not warm up with the Tar Heels (1-0) before the contest in Boone, N.C.

Downs led North Carolina with nine catches for 78 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 56-24 season-opening win against Florida A&M.

He earned All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors in 2021 with 101 receptions for 1,335 yards and eight touchdowns in 13 games.

–Field Level Media

Aug 27, 2022; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) throws a pass during the first half against the Florida A&M Rattlers at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

Drake Maye (5 TDs) leads North Carolina rout of FAMU

Redshirt freshman Drake Maye threw for five touchdowns in his first college start as North Carolina pulled away from short-handed Florida A&M to begin the season with a 56-24 victory Saturday night in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Florida A&M, a Football Championship Subdivision team, was without about 20 players because of various eligibility issues. Those problems put the game’s status in jeopardy a day earlier before it was confirmed that the Rattlers would make the trip.

Josh Downs caught two of Maye’s touchdown throws, the first coming with five seconds to play in the first half. The next came in the fourth quarter.

Maye, a younger brother of former North Carolina basketball player Luke Maye, finished 29-for-37 passing for 294 yards through the air. He also gained 55 yards on four carries.

No North Carolina player had ever thrown for five touchdowns in a season opener. Maye also became the school’s first player to toss five touchdown passes in his first career start.

Florida A&M quarterback Jeremy Moussa threw for two touchdowns with an interception. He was 28-for-38 for 279 yards.

Maye’s other touchdown throws went for 19 yards to Kamari Morales, 23 yards to Bryson Nesbit, four yards to Gavin Blackwell and two yards to Josh Downs.

North Carolina running backs Omarion Hampton (1-yard, 25-yard TD runs) and George Pettaway (29-yard run) scored in their first career game. Hampton ran for 101 yards.

Even with Florida A&M limited in depth on the offensive line because of the unavailable players, the Rattlers compiled 353 yards of total offense.

Moussa tossed touchdown passes of 17 yards to AJ Davis and 22 yards to Tre Davis, the latter closing the gap to 35-24 late in the third quarter.

Jaylen McCloud had a 5-yard touchdown run for the Rattlers.

The Tar Heels lost starting cornerback Tony Grimes to an upper-body injury early in the game.

This was the first football meeting between Florida A&M and North Carolina.

–Field Level Media

Florida A&M Rattlers quarterback Cameron Sapp (2) waits for the snap during a game between Florida A&M University and Alabama State University at Bragg Memorial Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla. Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

Famu Vs Alabama State 100221 490

Eligibility issues nearly led Florida A&M to back out vs. North Carolina

Florida A&M decided to travel for Saturday’s game at North Carolina after initially considering backing out of the game due to a slew of ineligible players.

The Rattlers decided Friday afternoon to make the trip, ABC27 in Tallahassee reported. The station displayed video of the team boarding a bus for the trip to the airport at around 3:40 p.m. ET.

The decision came after coach Willie Simmons reportedly left it up to the players to choose whether or not to play.

Florida A&M is slated to receive $450,000 for playing in the contest at Chapel Hill, N.C. It is billed as the HBCU Celebration Game with the Rattlers being among the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Simmons told ABC27 that there 20 ineligible players in the program due to academics or eligibility after transferring. Simmons said the team has just seven eligible offensive linemen.

ABC27 reported that FAMU has just one academic advisor in the athletic department.

“The responsibility ultimately falls on the student athlete, but without support, it is really, really hard to juggle all they have to juggle and still maintain satisfactory academic progress and still compete at the highest level,” Simmons told the station.

Florida A&M went 9-3 last season and lost to Southeastern Louisiana 38-14 in the first round of the FCS playoffs.

North Carolina went 6-7 last season.

–Field Level Media

Nov 11, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Drake Maye (10) warms up before the game against the Pittsburgh Panthers at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Drake Maye wins North Carolina QB competition

Drake Maye will be North Carolina’s starting quarterback for Saturday night’s season opener against visiting Florida A&M.

Tar Heels head coach Mack Brown made the announcement Monday, choosing the 6-foot-4 redshirt freshman to replace record-setting signal-caller Sam Howell.

Maye, whose brother Luke starred for the UNC basketball team (2015-19), won a competition that went down to the wire with third-year sophomore Jacolby Criswell.

A four-star recruit in the Class of 2021, Maye originally committed to Alabama before flipping to North Carolina.

Criswell completed 16 of 25 passes for 195 yards, one touchdown and one interception in seven appearances over the past two seasons. He also rushed 16 times for 94 yards and a TD.

Howell was a three-year starter for the Tar Heels who set school records for passing yards (10,283) and TDs (92) before being drafted in the fifth round in April by the Washington Commanders.

–Field Level Media

Oct 9, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;  North Carolina Tar Heels head coach  Mack Brown looks on from the sidelines against the Florida State Seminoles at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Mack Brown receives 1-year extension at North Carolina

North Carolina and head football coach Mack Brown agreed on a one-year extension to his contract, which now will run through January 2027.

While the school did not announce the value of the deal, ESPN reported he will be making $5 million per year.

Brown coached the Tar Heels from 1988-97 and returned three seasons ago. In that time, the team has a 21-17 record.

“Since his return to Carolina, Mack has done an outstanding job building a positive culture and energizing our fan base,” athletic director Bubba Cunningham said in a news release. “Under his leadership, we will continue to win both on the field and in the classroom, and we are all excited about the future of our football program.”

Brown, 70, is one of five active head coaches to have won a national championship.

“We’ve been able to accomplish a lot over the last three years on the field, in recruiting, and in the classroom,” Brown said. “The program was able to navigate a difficult period during the pandemic and it is in a healthy place currently. We’re excited about where we’re headed, and as we continue to receive strong support from the University, the future is bright for Carolina football.”

As of National Signing Day on Wednesday, the Tar Heels had the No. 9 recruiting class in the nation and tops in the Atlantic Coast Conference, per 247Sports.

Brown’s first head coaching job was at Tulane (1985-87), followed by his first stint at North Carolina before he moved on to Texas (1998-2013). The Longhorns, with Vince Young at quarterback, won the 2005 national championship.

His career record is 259-134-1, including 90-63-1 in Chapel Hill.

–Field Level Media

Dec 30, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; South Carolina Gamecocks running back Juju McDowell (21) runs for a touchdown as North Carolina Tar Heels linebacker Cedric Gray (33) defensive back Tony Grimes (20) defend in the second quarter during the 2021 Duke's Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Jaheim Bell, South Carolina jolt North Carolina in Mayo Bowl

Jaheim Bell caught two touchdown passes and Kevin Harris ran for 182 yards and a score to fuel South Carolina to a 38-21 win over North Carolina in the Mayo Bowl on Thursday at Charlotte, N.C.

It was an ideal way for the Gamecocks (7-6) to finish their season under first-year coach Shane Beamer.

The end of the season was a downer for North Carolina (7-6), much like the beginning. The Tar Heels started the season ranked in the Top 10 nationally.

It likely marked the end of the three-year record-setting college career for North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell. It began with a victory against South Carolina to start the 2019 season in the same stadium.

This time, Howell completed 12 of 20 passes for 205 yards and one touchdown.

Harris pulled off his production on 31 carries. Bell caught five passes for 159 yards.

South Carolina completed its first 10 passes on the way to 242 yards through the air to go with 301 rushing yards. Dakereon Joyner was 9-for-9 for 160 yards.

South Carolina held a 32-13 lead midway through the third quarter.

A double-reverse resulted in Howell’s 37-yard touchdown throw to Garrett Walston with 7:24 to play in the third.

North Carolina’s defense came up with a notable stop despite South Carolina’s 11-play, 77-yard march in the fourth quarter. The Gamecocks settled for Parker White’s 22-yard field goal with 7:44 remaining.

The Tar Heels managed only one first down before punting with less than six minutes left. White’s 33-yard field goal capped the scoring.

Bell made two touchdown catches in the first 7 1/2 minutes as the Gamecocks built a 15-0 lead.

The first TD play covered 69 yards, with Joyner, who had been a receiver, throwing the pass. Zeb Noland hooked up with Bell for a 66-yard play on the next score, followed by punter Kai Kroeger’s two-point conversion pass to Nick Muse.

Trailing 18-0, North Carolina got on the board when British Brooks ran 63 yards for a touchdown. That was the longest touchdown run in the Tar Heels’ bowl history.

North Carolina’s Grayson Atkins kicked two field goals in the last six minutes of the first half. But in between, Juju McDowell sprinted 35 yards for a touchdown, helping the Gamecocks record a 25-13 lead at the break.

–Field Level Media

Nov 26, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA;  North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Sam Howell (7) throws a pass during the second half against the North Carolina State Wolfpack at Carter-Finley Stadium.  The Wolfpack won 34-30. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

UNC, South Carolina chase winning season mark at Duke’s Mayo Bowl

This isn’t where the North Carolina football team figured it would conclude the 2021 season, but in many ways, the Duke’s Mayo Bowl comes full circle for standout quarterback Sam Howell.

The Tar Heels take on South Carolina on Dec. 30 in Charlotte.

It’s the same stadium and the same opponent from the game in which Howell began his record-setting college career in 2019. While speculation is high that the junior will head to the NFL after this season, he wanted another game with the Tar Heels.

“All the advice I got was probably to not play in the bowl game, and everyone was probably expecting me not to,” Howell said. “(But) this is what I want to do. … I just love this team, I love playing football, that’s the main thing, and I love this sport. So it wouldn’t sit right for me not playing the bowl game.”

There could be contrasting outlooks in the matchup, even though both teams hold 6-6 records.

North Carolina began the season in the Top 10 before tumbling. South Carolina is in its first season under Shane Beamer and largely is considered an overachiever.

“We didn’t meet our expectations this year and South Carolina did, because a lot of people were talking about the struggles they were going to have and they had some quarterbacks hurt,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. “(Beamer’s team) beat Florida and he beat Auburn, so I’m very proud of Shane and look forward to competing against him in this bowl game.”

The Gamecocks will be aiming to build more momentum.

“Six wins with the opportunity to get seven. Five come-from-behind wins this season,” Beamer said. “We have higher goals than six wins and bowl eligibility, but it’s a heck of a start for this program.”

Beamer views this opportunity as a way to strengthen what has been accomplished the past few months.

“We’ve got a lot of young players,” he said. “We’re building this thing. Year 1 was a great Year 1 for us from a foundation standpoint. There’s work to be done because you’re trying to win a football game.”

Howell threw two touchdown passes in a 24-20 victory in the 2019 opener against South Carolina when the teams met at Bank of America Stadium, which is home to the NFL’s Carolina Panthers. The upcoming bowl game is another challenge for Howell, who is from the Charlotte area.

“They’re very talented on the defensive line, they have three really good defensive ends that are athletic,” North Carolina offensive coordinator Phil Longo said. “They’re good pass rushers, they’re physical, they get off blocks and you got seven guys on the South Carolina defense that are veterans.”

North Carolina leads the series with South Carolina by 35-19-4, including 3-1 at neutral sites.

“I know it’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere,” Beamer said.

South Carolina’s lone bowl visit to Charlotte resulted in a 28-0 loss to Virginia in 2018. The Gamecocks haven’t been in a bowl game since then, as last year’s Gasparilla Bowl matchup vs. UAB was called off due to COVID-19 issues in the South Carolina program.

Gamecocks running back ZaQuandre White has opted out of this year’s bowl to prepare for the NFL Draft after posting 583 rushing yards and 202 receiving yards this year.

Brown, who led Texas to the title in 2005, went into the College Football Hall of Fame in the same year as Frank Beamer, the legendary Virginia Tech coach and Shane’s father.

Brown’s teams hold a 14-9 bowl record.

–Field Level Media