North Carolina closes out its home season on Saturday against Western Carolina.
The game against the Catamounts was added after UNC’s lone non-conference game, against Charlotte, was cancelled due to COVID-19 testing and contact tracing on Charlotte’s team.
Western Carolina is two games into its season, which is schedule to end April 10. The Catamounts have lost to Liberty, 58-14, and Eastern Kentucky, 49-17.
It will be Senior Day for the Tar Heels. The ceremonies are a bit more complicated than usual. In addition to the usual uncertainty about who will be back due to early departure for the NFL and transfers, the NCAA ruled that this year did not count against any players’ eligibility, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That means that seniors have the option of returning for another year. Thus far, only two Carolina seniors—linebacker Tyrone Hopper and wide receiver Beau Corrales—have opted to return for another year. Kicker Grayson Atkins, a graduate transfer, also has another year of eligibility and plans to return.
Seniors expected to participate in the pregame ceremony and end their Tar Heel careers are running back Michael Carter, wide receiver Austyn Chestnut (a junior), wide receiver Austin Chrismon (a junior), long snapper Trevor Collins, linebacker Matthew Flint (a redshirt sophomore out for the year who reportedly entered the transfer portal earlier this season), linebacker Tomon Fox, defensive lineman Xach Gil (a junior), kicker/punter Cooper Graham (a junior), wide receiver Mason Laurence (a junior), wide receiver Dazz Newsome, offensive lineman Tobechi Nwokeji (a junior), defensive back Patrice Rene, quarterback Jace Ruder (a sophomore), kicker Noah Ruggles (a junior), linebacker Chazz Surratt and tight end Garrett Walston.
Western calls tails (which you should always do) and wins. They elect to receive. No deferring. Ready to go here at Kenan.
UNC wearing blue jerseys and helmets, white pants. Western has white tops, yellow pants, purple helmets.
Storm Duck, Beau Corrales, Josh Downs, Ed Montilus, Stephen Gosnell are out for today's game.
UNC with a quick, efficient scoring drive. Sam Howell was 5-for-5 for 50 yards and Michael Carter ran 17 yards for the score.
Dropped third-down pass ends Western's drive. The Cats kick a 40-yarder to cut the score to 7-3
Howell rushes for 30 yards to give UNC a first down. He then hits Antoine Green for a 22-yard score. That was Green's first catch of the year. 14-3 Heels.
Carolina quickly putting this out of reach. Michael Carter rushes for a 22-yard score and it's 21-3.
Carter moves into sixth on the UNC rushing list, passing Natrone Means and Ethan Horton on that touchdown run.
Some momentum for Western Carolina. They force and recover a Toe Groves fumble, then hit a 40-yard trick play. On the move in Carolina territory.
So much for momentum. WCU punts. UNC on the move. 17 to Simmons, 32 to Javonte Williams, 15 to Dyami Brown. Howell is carving up the defense.
Williams with a leaping catch on third down, then rushes three yards for the score on fourth. 28-3.
Williams is now tied with Gio Bernard for most touchdowns in a season (19) and fourth in points in a season
Heels recover a fumble, and Michael Carter gets his third rushing touchdown of the day. 35-3.
Western gets off a nine-yard punt, although a penalty on UNC gives it another 15.
It takes UNC two plays to score--24 to K Brown, 27 to Newsome. 42-3 just before half. That ties for most points in a half by UNC this year.
Howell ties Bryn Renner for second on the school career passing touchdown list.
And that's the half. 42-3 Carolina.
Milestones to watch for in the second half: Carter needs 63 rushing yards for 1,000 this season. Williams needs 96.
Criswell in for Carolina in the second half. He throws a pick six, but it comes back on an illegal block. Still WCU ball though.
ECU tries a fake field goal. Pass is incomplete. UNC ball.