Cards Trounce Heels

LOUISVILLE – Word on the street was North Carolina had greatly improved since getting shut out at home by Louisville a little over a year ago. However, nothing about the Tar Heels' performance on Saturday indicated that, as the 23rd-ranked Cardinals ran roughshod over Carolina en route to a 69-14 victory in front of 41,334 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

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    It was the most points a UNC football team has ever surrendered in its 117-year history, eclipsing the previous mark set in 1912 – a 66-0 loss to Virginia.

    "You can really get mesmerized watching the scoreboard," John Bunting said. "It goes on and the fireworks continue to go off. I thought at one point they might run out of fireworks.

    "[Sixty-nine] is a big number, and I'm basically just numb at this point."

    In its last four home games, Louisville has scored 60 or more points, outscoring those opponents by a combined score of 263-58. Still, the Cardinals' 451 yards of total offense were not the most the Tar Heels have allowed this season. Carolina gave up 475 yards to Georgia Tech in a 27-21 loss to open the season.

    "I don't have words for this," said wide receiver Jesse Holley, who finished with 56 yards receiving on five catches. "It was just embarrassing. I hope every player remembers this feeling. This is a feeling we don't want in our lives [ever again]."

    In a game that Carolina (2-3) needed to do almost nothing wrong to have a chance to win, it could do very little right. For most of the afternoon, the homegrown tandem of quarterback Brian Brohm and gigantic tailback Michael Bush, along with the Cardinals' enormous offensive line, made the Tar Heels' defense look more like scout team fodder than a unit that was riding high after several solid performances.

    Louisville (4-1) scored on all six of its possessions in the first half, while the Tar Heels could only answer the first Cardinals' touchdown with a 12-play, 79-yard drive that ended in a two-yard scoring run by Ronnie McGill with 6:07 left in the first quarter.

    From then on, the Cardinals made the Tar Heels see red. In fact, Louisville punter Todd Flannery made his first and only appearance early in the fourth quarter.

    UNC had recorded 12 sacks in its previous three outings but could rarely get close to Brohm, who played pitch and catch with his receivers to the tune of 304 yards and four touchdowns. Brian Rackley did manage to get to Brohm in the third quarter for his second sack of the year.

    "Coach said this was going to be our night, because we had such a great week of preparation," Brohm said. "I think we hit on all cylinders."

    Bush finished with just 54 yards and two rushing touchdowns, but also scored on a 13-yard reception.

    Unlike last year's defeat at Kenan Stadium, in which Carolina trailed Louisville by just 10 at halftime, the Tar Heels trailed 38-7 and hadn't even a prayer at intermission.

    Even when UNC held the Cardinals without a first down on their first offensive drive of the second half, Louisville still managed a 43-yard Art Carmody field goal thanks to a short field set up by Wallace Wright's fumble on the opening kickoff.

    Then at the 10:58 mark of the third quarter, with Louisville leading 41-7 - and when it didn't seem things couldn't get any worse for the Tar Heels - Matt Baker sprained his right ankle but did return.

    Baker completed 19 of 27 passes for 224 yards with an interception that led directly to a Cardinals' field goal in the first quarter.

    Cardinal defensive end Elvis Dumervil was a nightmare for the Tar Heels offense, recording seven tackles (five solo), four tackles for a combined loss of 26 yards, two forced fumbles, one interception, a pass breakup and three sacks for minus-25 yards.

    "He may have set a world record tonight," Bunting said of Dumervil. "He's the ‘second coming.'"

    The Tar Heels' other score came on Nick Starcevic's first career touchdown from two yards out following an 84-yard drive.

    In many ways, the loss resembled the Tar Heels' 46-16 defeat at Utah last year. In that game, Carolina returned home to a bye week having given up a school-record 669 yards of total offense to the Utes. Remarkably, UNC bounced back to upset fourth-ranked Miami two weeks later.

    "There's not much to say," Bunting said. "We were clearly outplayed, ‘out-personnelled,' and out-coached – you name it. Fortunately for us, we get to go home, think about it and prepare for the next opponent."

    Prior to the game, a UNC spokesperson announced that Jarwarski Pollock remained in Chapel Hill after undergoing surgery on Friday to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. Bunting said after the game that that the surgery was successful and that Pollock is considered probable for Carolina's next game on Oct. 22 versus Virginia (3-2, 1-2 ACC).

    The Cavaliers fell to 18th ranked Boston College, 28-17.

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