Cornerback Kendric Burney led UNC with seven tackles in his first game of the season. The NCAA suspended Burney for six games for receiving agent-related benefits, and he sat out a seventh game while going through the university's honor court.
"Everybody makes mistakes," Burney said. "Everybody gets a second chance. I just thank God that I got a second chance."
Burney knocked away a pass on the second play of the game and got a standing ovation from the UNC crowd.
"That made me feel like, 'All right, I'm back,' " Burney said.
UNC needed Burney. Cornerback Mywan Jackson (groin) and cornerback Tre Boston (ankle) did not play. Safety Da'Norris Searcy, who suffered a concussion last week, played but did not return kicks. Burney returned punts in Searcy's place. Freshman cornerback Terry Shankle injured his left knee in the first half, further depleting UNC's secondary.
Senior linebacker Quan Sturdivant dressed for the game but did not play. He has not played since UNC's win at Rutgers on Sept. 25, a span of five games. Guard Alan Pelc (shoulder) did not play. That was the first game he has missed this season. Defensive tackle Jordan Nix (elbow) played for the first time in two games and started. Cornerback LeCount Fantroy (shoulder), who missed the Miami game, returned and started opposite Burney. He was beaten on the first William & Mary touchdown.
There were three missed kicks, all in the east end zone. W&M's Drake Kuhn missed a 23-yard field goal and extra point in the first quarter, and UNC's Casey Barth missed a 37-yard field goal in the third quarter.