Tar Heel take the Gamecocks in Mack Brown’s return

Dick Cox

September 01, 2019 at 12:38 pm.

The North Carolina Tar Heels rallied from 11 points down in the second half to upset the South Carolina Gamecocks, 24-20, in the battle of the Carolinas at the Belk Kickoff in Charlotte, NC on Saturday. The game featured the return to coaching of former Tar Heel coach Mack Brown, facing Will Muschamp, Brown’s former assistant coach and the coach-in-waiting when the two coached together at University of Texas.

Highly-touted true freshman quarterback Sam Howell out-dueled Gamecock senior quarterback Jake Bentley by throwing for 245 yards and two touchdowns, Myles Wolfork had two late fourth quarter interceptions and North Carolina was able to hold off two late South Carolina drives. Howell capped second half drives of 98 and 95 yards with a 22-yard TD strike to Dyami Brown and a 17-yard scoring toss to Beau Corrales to give the returing head coach his first win since 2013 when he coached at Texas.

Brown was holding back tears as he was interviewed leaving the field after singing the school fight song with fans and raising his hands to them in victory. “I don’t usually (do that), but I thought I should because they stayed; they were loud,” Brown said. “I wanted to tell them thank you.” Later, Brown danced in the victorious locker room.

The Tar Heels were remarkably conservative on offense in crucial situations in the first half, not wanting to put Howell in difficult positions. North Carolina had 12 plays inside the South Carolina 25-yard line in the first half and 11 were runs. The only pass attempt resulted in a sack. But as the game progressed, the Tar Heels took the handcuffs off Howell and he responded with two big TD passes and no major mistakes.

“We were very conservative with Sam Howell around the goal line early,” Brown said. “And we felt like at halftime, he’s a quarterback. We have to turn him loose. And he played a tremendous second half.”

The Gamecocks lead going into the fourth quarter, but North Carolina scored on drives of 98 and 95 yards in the final stanza to overcome a 20-9 deficit for the 24-20 victory.

“I was extremely disappointed in the outcome of the game and how we played,” said Muschamp. “Offensively, we moved the ball in the first half. We had two procedure penalties

that we had at midfield, creating a longer field than we wanted to attempt. “In the second quarter, I felt we really moved the ball well. In the second half, we were up 20-9 and we had an opportunity, but the holding call put us out of good field position. We really shot ourselves in the foot. I am really disappointed in the tackling, or the lack of tackling, in the game. “We had a couple of critical third downs that we didn’t make good on. A lot to improve on and we certainly will. I am disappointed for our school and our fan base.”

Clemson graduate transfer Tavien Feaster made his South Carolina debut and and rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown for the Gamecocks.

Lindy’s Sports Belk Kickoff Post Game Report