Carter, Williams run roughshod on Miami as UNC rolls past the Hurricanes

By R.L. Bynum

No. 20 North Carolina showed that it can give any team in the country a run for their money if the Tar Heels can unleash the potent running back combination of Michael Carter and Javonte Williams.

No. 9 Miami was helpless to stop them as both ran for more than 200 yards and Carolina rolled up 560 rushing yards to earn a signature 62–26 upset of the Hurricanes (8–2, 6–2 ACC) on Saturday night in Miami Gardens, Fla.

With the win, Carolina (8–3, 7–3) might just be headed back to Hard Rock Stadium for the Orange Bowl on Jan. 2 as long as Notre Dame doesn’t blow out Clemson in next Saturday’s ACC championship game. 

“What those guys did the night, it’s just remarkable because Miami’s really good,” UNC coach Mack Brown said. “And I’m not sure anybody picked it that way. I’m not sure if I saw it that way. I sure wouldn’t have thought that we could have accomplished the things that we did tonight.”

The Tar Heels’ 778 total yards are a school record and the rushing total was the second-best in school history on a day that their offensive line was outstanding.

Carter and Williams ran for the most yards in a game by teammates in FBS history with 520 yards, bettering the previous mark of 506 by Buffalo’s Jaret Patterson and Kevin Marks against Kent State earlier this season. They are the first ACC duo to each rush for more than 200 yards in the history of the league.

Carter dashed and cut his way to 308 yards and two touchdowns and Williams bulled and sped his way to 236 yards and three touchdowns. With the three scores, Williams passed Don McCauley’s 1970 school-record total of 21 touchdowns with 22.

North Carolina running back Michael Carter ran for 308 yards and two touchdowns Saturday.

Carter’s 308 yards are the fourth-most by an ACC player in a game behind Boston College’s Andre Williams (339 in 2013 vs. N.C. State), Wake Forest’s John Leach (329 vs. Maryland in 1993) and Carolina’s Derrick Fenner (328 against Virginia in 1986.)

Carter took advantage of nice holes created by the offensive line and then did the rest.

“Our offensive line was doing a great job pre-snap of identifying who they needed to get,” Carter said. “And we pride ourselves on one on ones. And I feel like we had a lot of one on ones with the safeties. We won more than we lost and that’s what it came down to.”

As if the running back tandem wasn’t impressive enough, quarterback Sam Howell ran for a touchdown, threw for a touchdown and caught a touchdown pass, finishing 14 of 19 for 223 yards. Howell became the second Tar Heel to pull off touchdowns those three ways after Marquise Williams did it against Notre Dame in 2014.

After the scoring catch, Howell flashed a “U” symbol with his hands.

“It’s a credit to our O line,” Howell said. “They’re getting up to the second level, and putting their hats on hats and they did a really good job and the running backs, they just did what they did. They’re two of the best back I’ve ever been around and I think the whole country saw that tonight.”

Another quarterback, Chazz Surratt had a forgettable game two years ago. But as a linebacker Saturday, he had six tackles and four assists and broke up two passes to lead UNC’s defense.

“There was a little extra juice for this one,” said Surratt, who made a huge stop on a fourth-and-one in the first quarter. “To be honest, I wanted to come out there and, you know, take it personal. Go out there and play hard, play with passion and go out there and try to do the best I can today. So yeah, it was a little extra motivation for me.”

Brown was proud of the performance of his defense.

“I think the defense will be overshadowed by the offense tonight because of the numbers, and just the sheer number of big plays,” Brown said. “But I thought the defense really got it all started.”

Williams’ first-quarter touchdown runs of 2 yards and 1 yard and Carter’s 65-yard touchdown run gave the Tar Heels a 21–3 lead as the first quarter ended. Two Grayson Atkins field goals (21 and 25 yards) sandwiched another Carter scoring run, this one of 25 yards, to make it 34–3.

Miami cut its deficit to 24 by halftime on a 2-yard touchdown pass from quarterback D’Eriq King to Mike Harley.

Carolina ate up half the third quarter with the initial drive of the second half, a 13-play, 75-yard, 7-minute, 36-second drive, that Howell ended with a 2-yard touchdown run.

After King connected with Brevin Jordan to trim Miami’s deficit to 41–18, Howell caught a touchdown pass from Toe Groves on a trick play with 14:16 left in the game.   

Miami cut it to 22 on a Cam’Ron Harris 6-yard touchdown run and a 2-point conversion pass from King to Will Mallory.

Howell’s 5-yard touchdown pass to Kamari Morales and a 1-yard touchdown run by Williams shoved the lead to 62–26 with 3:58 left.

The win was one for the record books:

  • It was UNC’s first win over a top-10 team since beating No. 4 Miami 31–28 in 2004 in Chapel Hill.
  • The 62 points were the most in program history against a ranked team, bettering the 56 against Virginia Tech earlier this season.
  • The 36-point win was the largest against a ranked team in program history, bettering the 35-point win over No. 13 Clemson in 2001.
  • UNC’s 778 yards of total offense were the most against Miami in its program’s history.
  • The 62 points were the most against Miami since Syracuse’s 66–13 win in 1998 and the most UNC has scored in a road ACC game (bettering the 56 at Duke earlier this season).
  • Carter and Williams became the fifth UNC running back duo to each surpass 1,000 in a season. The others were James Betterson and Mike Voight in 1974, Amos Lawrence and Kelvin Bryant in 1980, Tyrone Anthony and Ethan Horton in 1983 and Leon Johnson and Curtis Johnson in 1993.

No. 20 UNC 62, No. 9 Miami 26

Pool photos by Michael Laughlin

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