William & Mary (6-2) wasted little time in setting the tone against North Carolina (5-3, 2-2 ACC), reaching the red zone in four of its five possessions in the first half. Former Tar Heel and current Tribe quarterback Mike Paulus bookended a pair of touchdown passes to Chase Hill around a one-yard T.J. Yates touchdown run to give his squad a 14-7 lead.
Drake Kuhn added a 28-yard field goal to send William & Mary into halftime with a 17-7 advantage, but the second half belonged to the Tar Heels.
North Carolina embarked on a 18-play, 90-yard drive in the fourth quarter that ended with a three-yard touchdown pass from Yates to Ryan Taylor, and then White added his 67-yard burst to the end zone on UNC’s next series to finalize the scoreboard.
The Tar Heels outgained the Tribe 421-286, thanks in large part to a 172-29 discrepancy in the fourth quarter. North Carolina lost the turnover battle, 2-1, but managed to convert nine of its 16 third-down opportunities while holding William & Mary to a 5-of-13 mark.
Yates completed 23 of his 33 passing attempts for 238 yards, one touchdown and an interception, and Paulus countered by connecting on 24 of his 35 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns.
UNC wide receiver Dwight Jones hauled in a career-high nine catches for 107 yards.
INSIDE THE GAME
White Lightning All Over Again
Three weeks ago, North Carolina leaned heavily on Johnny White in the fourth quarter against Clemson, and the fifth-year senior responded with 82 all-purpose yards in the narrow 21-16 victory.
White rose to the occasion once again on Saturday, churning out 99 rushing yards in the final 15 minutes against William & Mary, including a 67-yard touchdown run with 5:21 left to play. That mad dash is White’s second-longest in as many games after his 76-yard touchdown run against Miami last weekend.
“I thought Johnny White tonight showed up big-time,” Davis said. “He ran the ball extremely well and gave us the play we needed to flip not only the emotions, but certainly the score.”
The Tar Heels were facing a 3rd-and-1 on their own 33-yard-line when offensive coordinator John Shoop called a basic power run to the left side of the line. Six-foot-seven, 335-pound right guard Travis Bond pulled on the play, allowing the 5-foot-10, 205-pound White to disappear in his massive shadow.
“I just hid behind him – he’s way bigger than me – so I could hide pretty well,” White said. “Right when he kicked the guy out, I just jumped right inside of him and there was green grass.”
White’s 164 rushing yards equal the most ever by a Tar Heel under Davis, matching Ryan Houston’s total against Duke in ’09. The Asheville, N.C. product currently has 713 rushing yards on 123 carries for the season, meaning he needs to average 71.8 yards per game in November to become the first Tar Heel to eclipse the 1,000-yard plateau since Jonathan Linton accomplished that feat in 1997.
The Return of the Ringleader
Mike Paulus sent his former UNC teammates a text message earlier this season, specifically targeted at the Tar Heel secondary:
‘On Oct. 30, the rude boyz are going to have manners.’
As it turns out, Paulus wasn’t talking trash, he was talking the truth – at least for the opening half.
The red-shirt junior entered Saturday’s game with a solid stat line – 64-of-107 passing, 674 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT – but had been replaced by previously-injured starter Mike Callahan in last weekend’s 17-16 victory over Delaware. Callahan lasted only five plays against UNC, however, before being knocked out with an injury.
Paulus entered the game at the 10:23 mark, and proceeded to march the Tribe down to the five-yard-line, but Kuhn pushed a 22-yard field goal wide right. His defense quickly gave him the ball back with a short field, and Paulus capitalized with a six-yard touchdown strike to Chase Hill.
Two series later, Paulus directed a mammoth 12-play, 83-yard drive that ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Hill to give the Tribe a 14-7 lead. He finished the first half by completing 13 of his 14 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns.
“I thought he played very well,” UNC head coach Butch Davis said of Paulus. “… He’s done a remarkable job this year and helped them win some games, and he was playing extremely well tonight.”
The glass slipper vanished in the locker room, however, as North Carolina made the necessary adjustments to contain Paulus over the final 30 minutes. He completed 11 of his 21 passes for 91 yards after intermission before being knocked out of the game with two seconds left on the clock.
Burney Back at Cornerback
On William & Mary’s first offensive possession, quarterback Mike Callahan took a 2nd-and-7 snap and fired down the left sideline to Ryan Moody, but the sophomore wide receiver had the ball knocked away by Kendric Burney, playing in his first game of the season after a roller coaster ride of NCAA and academic issues.
It took a few seconds for the crowd to realize who made the pass breakup, but once that determination spread throughout the stands, the fifth-year senior received a loud standing ovation.
Burney’s difficult road was admittedly self-inflicted, but that show of support from the fan base provided a new perspective for the ’09 first-team All-ACC cornerback.
“Today was the day I finally got that full effect of how much it means to be here,” Burney told reporters following the game. “I love this place. When I made that first play, the Tar Heel fans showed me how much they care. I appreciate that 100 percent. I’m sure my parents appreciate it and I’m sure anyone in my family appreciated it, because that was huge. That made me definitely feel like I was back at home.”
Burney indicated that he’s not quite back to game speed, but said his teammates pushed him hard during his suspension to stay focused and be ready to play once he was finally cleared. He took the high road when asked if the length of his suspension was fair, saying it was “as fair as it could possibly be.”
“Everybody makes mistakes,” Burney said. “I can admit that we made a mistake coming into the season. I’m just thankful that God gave me a second chance to play football.”
Random Fact of the Day
Defensive end Donte Paige-Moss made his presence felt -- literally -- early and late on Saturday. Less than five minutes into the first quarter, the sophomore knocked Tribe quarterback Mike Callahan out of the game on a 2nd-and-4 pass play. Nearly 55 minutes later, Paige-Moss sacked Paulus for a 12-yard loss, sending the former Tar Heel to the sidelines with an arm injury.