Down on the field the points kept coming, as did the long plays, one after another, while up in the press box North Carolina officials kept flipping through the record book, checking to see if the Tar Heels were making history. They were.
UNC and Duke met at Kenan Stadium Saturday amid stakes rarely seen in their old rivalry, both playing to control the ACC’s Coastal Division. Yet an anticipated game between the teams turned into a demolition – a 66-31 UNC victory that was decided, for the most part, by halftime.
By the end of its first drive, North Carolina had one of its longest plays in Kenan Stadium history. By the end of its second drive the Tar Heels were averaging 23.4 yards per play. By halftime UNC had gained 486 yards – more than Duke had allowed in any game this season.
When the end came, mercifully, the teams walked off separate ends of the field toward their respective locker rooms. They appeared to be headed in different directions in another sense, too.
Duke, a week after losing against Miami in bizarre fashion after an eight-lateral kickoff return that featured several officiating mistakes, has now lost two consecutive games. UNC, meanwhile, won its eighth consecutive game, and this victory served as something of an emphatic statement.
On his team’s first offensive play, UNC quarterback Marquise Williams handed off to Elijah Hood, who took a step or two with the ball before pitching it back to Williams. He then threw a long pass down the middle to a wide-open Ryan Switzer, who caught the pass and sprinted for an 89-yard touchdown.
That play, which came less than three minutes into the game, foreshadowed what was to come.
Three who mattered
Marquise Williams: In the most statistically-impressive passing performance in school history, Williams completed 23 of his 35 attempts for 494 yards and four touchdowns. He set the school record for passing yards in a single game early in the third quarter, and didn’t play in the fourth quarter.
Mack Hollins: His 74-yard touchdown reception 90 seconds before halftime was the primary highligh,t but it wasn’t his only one. Hollins finished with a career-high 165 yards receiving and five receptions.
Elijah Hood: When Williams wasn’t throwing long touchdown passes, Hood was often ending drives with short touchdown runs. He finished with three touchdowns and 69 yards rushing on 17 carries.
Three key numbers
704 Total yards for UNC, the third-most in school history, and second-most in an ACC game.
9 Yards per play for the Tar Heels, who generated more than twice as many yards per play, on average, than Duke had been allowing (4.18) entering Saturday.
66 UNC’s point total on Saturday was its highest in the history of the rivalry, which dates to 1888, and the school’s highest ever in an ACC game.
Highlight reel? Where to begin. The Tar Heels generated four passing plays of at least 49 yards – three of those resulting in touchdowns – and five more UNC pass completions went for at least 20 yards.
The entire first half looked like one long UNC highlight reel, including the end of it, when Williams threw a 49-yard touchdown pass to Bug Howard with one second remaining before halftime.