(Saturday, September 5th)
Final Score: (21) North Carolina 40, The Citadel 6
Chapel Hill, NC (Sports Network) - T.J. Yates threw for 114 yards and two touchdowns while Ryan Houston ran for a pair of scores as 21st-ranked North Carolina subdued The Citadel, 40-6, in the season opener for both schools at Kenan Stadium.
Shaun Droughn led all backs with 118 yards on 20 carries while Houston gained 45 yards on six touches for the Tar Heels (1-0), who went 8-5 in 2008 and began the season ranked in the Top-25 to start the year for the first time since 1998.
"It's good to win the first ballgame," said Tar Heels head coach Butch Davis. "As I talked to the team before we ever played tonight, I said 'I want you to go out, have fun, play hard and know that the game is not going to be perfect. There's some things that we're not going to do as well as when the season unfolds.'"
Bart Blanchard completed 21-of-37 passes for 117 yards but was picked off three times for the Bulldogs (0-1), who finished 4-8 a year ago and amassed just eight first downs and turned the ball over four times in defeat.
Following a scoreless opening quarter, North Carolina's offense awoke with a burst of points.
A brief 44-yard, 11-play drive which spilled into the early portion of the second saw Casey Barth nail a 22-yard field goal for a 3-0 Tar Heels lead.
The defense held on a third down near midfield, and got the ball back on their own 41 after a nice return from Kendric Burney. Six plays later, Yates hit Johnny White for an 18-yard score and 10-0 bulge.
Houston added a five-yard run with 3:21 left in the half but the kick was no good, then Yates found Greg Little on a 21-yard connection two series later and North Carolina led 23-0 at the break.
Houston's three-yard scamper late in the third quarter boosted UNC to a 30-point cushion and was the lone score of the period.
Da' Norris Searcy broke away for a 75-yard punt return early in the fourth to put an exclamation point on the rout before Barth hit a 40-yarder sandwiched around 42-and-28 yard makes from Citadel's Sam Keeler.
"I thought that they were on the field too long and they got worn down, and that was obvious to see as North Carolina pounded the ball," said Bulldogs head coach Kevin Higgins of his defense. "I thought that those guys came and really did a nice job shutting down some things that North Carolina was trying to do. Certainly the interceptions and turnovers hurt us on offense in the first half."
UNC has won all four meetings between the schools...UNC outgained The Citadel 260-30 on the ground, and enjoyed a 374-153 overall edge in total yardage...Little had two catches for 31 yards and White's TD was his lone catch of the game...Scott Harward hauled in five balls for 37 yards for the Bulldogs...North Carolina travels to UConn next Saturday, and The Citadel next takes the field September 19 at Princeton.
09/05 23:13:45 ET