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The Tar Heels top the Eagles (26-22)

Preview: North Carolina Tar Heels (1-0, 1-0) vs Boston College Eagles (2-0, 1-0)

The October 3rd tilt between North Carolina and Boston College, like much of this college football season, has a few twist and turns.

Coming off a 7-6 campaign in 2019 in the 1st year of head coach Mack Brown's second stint with the team, expectations are high. Sophomore quarterback Sam Howell (coming off a 38 touchdown pass season) along with defensive leader and linebacker Chazz Surratt are among the reasons for talk of competing for the ACC Title. However, entering today's game, this is the team's first game since their September 12th home and season opener against Syracuse (a 31-6 win); given COVID-19 concerns with their scheduled game against UNC-Charlotte (the September 19th game is cancelled). Their inability to schedule an opponent on their open September 26th date contributes to the 12th ranked Tar Heels being idle. Still, even with a game under their belts, an offense featuring Howell, running backs Michael Carter (averaging an astounding 11.1 yards per carry on 7 carries) and Javonte Williams (3 rushing touchdowns), and wide receiver Dynami Brown (94 receiving yards), plus a defense led by Surratt, is gearing up for today's game.

Boston College comes in with the advantage of playing two weeks in a row, winning both games. Quarterback Phil Jurkovic (a transfer from Notre Dame) leads the ball-control oriented offense with 510 passing yards (3 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions), but being sacked 8 times in the Eagles' 2 games is a concern against the Tar Heel defense. Running back David Bailey leads the rushing attack and looks to improve on his 3.2 yards per carry; tight end Hunter Long (16 receptions for 174 yards and 2 touchdowns) is the key to their passing attack, and a steady defense led by linebacker Isaiah McDuffie plans to make it a tough day for North Carolina.

First half highlights: North Carolina Tar Heels vs Boston College Eagles

Boston College draws the opening possession of the quarter (and half) and punts after a 7-play drive. North Carolina's opening possession results in a 12-play 83-yard drive capped off by a 24-yard touchdown pass by Sam Howell to Khafre Brown (7:35 in the first quarter), giving the Tar Heels a 7-0 lead. Boston College responds on the ensuing drive; Eagles' quarterback Phil Jurkovic's 30-yard completion to CJ Lewis on a 3rd and 10 is a key play to keep their drive going, as the 10-play 57-yard drive concludes with a 35-yard field goal by Aaron Boumerhi to make it a 7-3 game (3:46 in the first quarter).

The Tar Heels strike back quickly to keep the pressure on the Eagles. Howell's 20-yard scamper and his 28-yard completion to Dynami Brown setup Javonte Williams for a 1-yard touchdown run, pushing the lead to 14-3. However, the Eagles respond to keep themselves in the game. A 31-yard completion by Jurkovic to Hunter Long and a 12-yard run by David Bailey positions Boumerhi to convert a 27-yard field goal at the 12:34 mark of the 2nd quarter (14-6 lead by North Carolina). On the very next drive, the Eagles' defense forces the first turnover of the game, as Bryce Sebastian's interception of a pass by Howell puts their offense deep in Tar Heel territory (their 5-yard line). Three plays later, a 5-yard touchdown toss by Jurkovic to Bailey makes it a 14-13 game (11:35 in the second quarter).

After both defenses stand tall, North Carolina comes up with a big play. With 1:09 left in the first half, Sam Howell's 41-yard strike to Javonte Williams is ruled a touchdown after replay shows his body is behind the line of scrimmage. This gives the Tar Heels a 21-13 advantage, but a late push by the Eagles, aided by a pass interference call, sets up another field goal by Aaron Boumerhi to close out the half with Boston College trailing 21-16.

At the half, it's an evenly played game as evidenced by the score. North Carolina has moderate advantages in total offense (256 to 202 yards) and time of possession (15:10 to 14:50), but their 5 penalties for 46 yards (compared to Boston College's 2 penalties for 13 yards) are an area to pay attention. Likewise, the Tar Heels' have a huge advantage running the ball, amassing 103 rushing yards (averaging 4.5 yards per carry) compared to the Eagles' 16 rushing yards.

Sam Howell's performance (7/14 for 153 yards, with 2 touchdowns and an interception) paces the Tar Heels' offense. Running back Michael Carter (9 carries for 52 yards, averaging 5.8 yards per carry) sets the tone for the ground game, and Javonte Williams' 86 combined yards rushing/receiving, including a team-high 56 receiving yards (and a pair of touchdowns-one rushing and one receiving). Phil Jurkovec directs the pass-dependent Eagles' offense (20/32 for 186 passing yards with a touchdown pass), but is sacked twice. Running back David Bailey leads the team with 22 rushing yards on 4 carries, and tight end Hunter Long's contributions (5 receptions for 61 yards) keeps the Eagles within striking distance.

Second half highlights: North Carolina Tar Heels vs Boston College Eagles

North Carolina opens with the ball for the second half, but the defense for both teams takes charge as both teams' opening possessions of the half leads to punts. Finally, the Tar Heels put together a successful drive; after a Sam Howell interception is overturned due to a pass inference penalty by the Eagles' Isaiah McDuffie, Grayson Atkins' 35-yard field goal makes it a 24-16 lead (6:25 in the third quarter).

The next 3 possessions combined lead to punts, including a noticeable uptick in penalties by both teams. Finally, the Tar Heels put together a 7-play 47-yard drive, leading to a 47-yard field goal attempt, but Grayson Atkins' missed attempt keeps the Eagles in the game. Getting another chance, Boston College grinds out a 15-play 69-yard drive. Overcoming an offensive pass-interference call along with a bevy of penalties, the Eagles finally get in the end zone as a 6-yard touchdown pass by Phil Jurkovec to CJ Lewis cuts the deficit to 24-22 with 46 seconds left in the game.

With a small margin for error, the Eagles decide to go for a 2-point conversion. Flushed out of the pocket, the Tar Heels' pressure Jurkovec, leading to an interception by Trey Morrison as his return leads to a 2-point conversion to add to their lead (26-22). Once the on-side attempt by Boston College is recovered by North Carolina, they are able to run out the clock to earn a victory.

Recap: North Carolina (2-0, 2-0) defeats Boston College (2-1, 1-1), 26-22

North Carolina has the edge in total offense (401 to 353 total yards), but Boston College has a slight advantage in time of possession (31:03 to 28:57). After a moderately well-played first half, both the Tar Heels (10 penalties for 96 yards) and Eagles (12 penalties for 110 yards) play a less than fluid second half given the increase in team penalties.

The Tar Heels' running game (176 rushing yards, averaging 4.5 yards a carry) has a noticeable impact on the game, while the Eagles' ground game (19 carries for 40 yards, a 2.1 average per carry) is not able to lend any notable support to the team offense.

Sam Howell paces the North Carolina offense (14 for 26 with 225 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception). Michael Carter's solid rushing effort (16 carries for 121 yards, averaging 7.6 yards per carry), along with Javonte Williams' efforts on the ground (57 rushing yards and a touchdown) and receiving (56 receiving yards and a touchdown) supplements the team offensive attack. Boston College's Phil Jurkovec throws for 313 yards, but does so going 37 for 56 (averaging 5.6 yards per attempt) while adding 2 touchdowns. Hunter Long's 9 receptions (96 yards) keeps the Eagles in contention until the waning moments of the game.

North Carolina's next game is scheduled for October 10th at 12pm EST (at Chapel Hill, NC) against Virginia Tech (1-0, 1-0). Boston College hosts Pittsburgh (3-1, 2-1) at 4pm on October 10th.

All video and photos credited to the ACC Media Portal:

  1. Boston College quarterback Phil Jurkovec attempts a pass despite the pressure from the Tar Heels' defense. The Notre Dame transfer completed 37 of 56 passes for 313 yards and 2 touchdowns.

  2. The Eagles make their way on on Alumni Field to take on North Carolina.

  3. The Tar Heels' ground game is led by running back Michael Carter; he entered the game averaging 11.1 yards per carry and today, he averages 7.6 yards per carry (16 carries for 121 yards).

  4. Wide receiver Dyami Brown (Tar Heels) on the move; he finishes the game with 4 receptions for 60 yards.

  5. North Carolina's offense celebrating a play by Dyami Brown; the Tar Heel offense puts up 401 yards of total offense.

  6. Javonte Williams made his presence felt on the ground and receiving; the running back goes for 57 rushing yards (and a touchdown) and adds another 56 receiving yards (and a touchdown) in the 26-22 win over the Eagles.

  7. The Tar Heels' Javonte Williams averages 5.2 yards per carry against the Eagles' defense.

  8. Another example of the Tar Heels' Javonte Williams making his way through the Boston College defense; with a solid 4.5 yards per carry on 39 attempts, the running game plays a role in the team win.

  9. Boston College running back Pat Garwo III tries to break through the Carolina defense; the Eagles can only generate 40 rushing yards on 19 carries.

  10. The Eagles' Travis Levy making a play; he has 3 receptions for 29 yards as the Eagles' fall just short by a 26-22 margin.


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