UNC Backup QB Lights Up UVa Defense
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) - Marquise Williams recorded a touchdown passing, rushing and receiving to help North Carolina beat Virginia 45-14 on Saturday.
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Ryan Switzer had a punt return for a touchdown and Dominique Green had an interception return for a score for the Tar Heels (4-5, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference).
North Carolina extended its winning streak to three games while posting its fourth consecutive victory over the Cavaliers (2-8, 0-6).
Wide receiver Quinshad Davis caught a touchdown pass and threw for a score for the Tar Heels.
Kevin Parks rushed for 100 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries for Virginia. The Cavaliers suffered their seventh consecutive defeat, their longest losing streak within one season since 1981.
Williams completed 15 of 28 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
It was North Carolina's first game since starting quarterback Bryn Renner had season-ending surgery on his left shoulder.
The Tar Heels had thrived in recent weeks using a two-quarterback system employing Renner and Williams, but Williams alone was enough against Virginia.
Wearing Renner's No. 2 to honor his injured teammate, Williams led the Tar Heels on long touchdown drives the first two times they had the ball.
Williams threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Davis to cap the first series, and Davis returned the favor with a 29-yard strike to Williams on the final play of the first quarter.
Davis took a pitch from running back T.J. Logan on a reverse and lofted a pass to Williams, who was alone in the Virginia secondary, for the touchdown.
The Tar Heels kept the drives alive by going 5-for-5 on third down. Four of the conversions featured passes by Williams on third and 9 or longer.
North Carolina led 21-0 at halftime after Switzer turned trepidation into celebration in a matter of seconds. He muffed a 49-yard punt by Virginia's Alec Vozenilek, but the ball bounced right back into his hands at the 15.
Switzer took off up the middle, broke a tackle and worked his way to the left sideline. He eluded Vozenilek at the Virginia 40 and coasted into the end zone for an 85-yard touchdown.
Trailing 28-0 after a 3-yard touchdown run by Williams, the Cavaliers showed signs of life when Parks had an 8-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.
Anthony Harris intercepted a pass by Williams on the ensuing possession, setting up Virginia at the North Carolina 41.
But two plays later, Green intercepted an ill-advised pass by the scrambling Watford and returned it 62 yards for a touchdown to put the Tar Heels ahead 35-7.
Quotes courtesy of UVa athletics:
Virginia Head Coach Mike London
It's obviously disappointing not being able to early on make something happen offensively. They got up on us quick with some scores. We were in third and long situations and we weren't able to convert. They were in third and long situations, and they were able to convert. Obviously that always hurts when you stop your own drives, and you allow teams to extend their drives.
They executed well, and we didn't execute well enough. They had a big play on special teams on the punt return, which we definitely could not have. They did an excellent job doing what they needed to do, and we did not. The results are as they are.
On preparing for the game:
When you mix your runs and your passes, they had shown reverses when you run the ball. The reaction to that is responsibility of the secondary guys and making sure you don't bite up on reverse.
When they have the opportunity to throw the ball behind you because you're thinking it's a reverse. You know they stick those kind of plays in there, they're called trick plays or gadget plays. And they executed the trick play off the gadget play that definitely caught us not where we needed to be.
You know you practice and you practice and then have to go out and execute in the game, and we did not execute.
On the mood in the beginning of the game after Carolina repeatedly scored:
Initially, the first couple of drives they scored and then came back with the next drive, the play that was the reverse pass touchdown, and they did some nice things on the special teams. So it just looked like they kept executing their offense and we were a man short or a guy not in his gap or not executing the defense that was called. So they did a nice job of doing what they needed to do, and obviously we didn't early on.
I go back to the third down situations, where I think they were like five-for-five or six-for-five in third down situations and we were not. Those are critical points to get off the field and extend the drives. Early on they executed well, and we couldn't stop them.
Head Coach Larry Fedora
"It was fun to get back out here in a conference game in front of our fans, our students in the Tar Pit. I thought we had probably played one of the more complete games we have played this year, and I'm talking in all three phases. I do believe this team is getting a little bit better each week. As a coach, that's what you ask for in your players. You ask for them to keep doing things that we do, keep working hard, and hopefully we get better each week. I do feel like we're getting that done."
On starting QB Marquise Williams
"Just for me, watching him pregame, watching him in the locker room, watching how he interacted with the guys, he was as comfortable as he ever is. Nothing was changed about him, and he got out there and he managed the game very well. He took care of the football really well, which is, in your first start or second start, I should say, you want to watch a quarterback who doesn't have that type of experience as to how he's taking care of the football. The one that he got hit and the ball was floating up in the air, and they got the pick, you can't really blame him for that. But I thought he really did a great job of taking care of the football and then moving the chains for us, which means he's managing the game really well."
On the freshman class
"This class, I really do think this freshman class is going to be pretty special. Not only are they playing for us, they're making plays for us. Each and every one. We'll be able to go back, and you watch these kids on defense, Mikey Bart and [Desmond] Lawrence and Dominique [Green] and Brian Walker and those guys, and they're making plays for us. They're not just out there. They're making plays. Then the guys on offense, it's obvious they're making plays. Again, Lucas Crowley. I don't know how many series he played. I don't even pay any attention to it because you don't see a change. [Ryan] Switzer is continuing to make plays. Bug [Howard] is making plays. Now you've got Khris Francis getting into the end zone. No. 8 [T.J. Logan] a good job. I think what you're finding out now is they've adapted to college football. So now you see their athleticism come out. You see them just starting to play ball, not worry about everything, not worry about making mistakes. They're just playing ball, and they're having some fun out there."
On UNC's improved defense
"If you continue not to give up big plays, you give yourself a chance. We stopped the run today. Overall, they've come a long way. I'll put it that way. They've come a long way. Every week they're gaining more confidence. They feel better about themselves. That helps you. You start getting some confidence and you feel good about yourself, you feel good about each other, and you feel a little bit more accountable to your teammates, so you work a little bit harder. And that's what they're doing."
Notes Courtesy of UVa athletics:
Virginia Team Notes
Saturday's game was the 118th meeting between UVa and North Carolina. The Oldest Rivalry in the South trails only the Minnesota/Wisconsin rivalry (122) and Kansas/Missouri rivalry (120) as most-played FBS rivalry in history.
With the loss, UNC now leads the rivalry 60-54-4 and 31-12-3 in Chapel Hill.
UVa gave up an 85-yard punt return for a touchdown to Ryan Switzer, the first against Virginia since Miami's Collier Thearon returned a punt 60 yards for a score in 2009.
Virginia Player Notes
With his first catch of the day, Darius Jennings reached 100 career catches. Jennings becomes the 17th different Cavalier to amass at least 100 career catches in program history.
Jennings extended his streak of consecutive games with a catch to three.
Kevin Parks' touchdown rush in the third quarter was his 10th of the season, surpassing his career-best nine from 2011.
The touchdown was Parks' 24th rushing touchdown of his career, tying him for No. 7 all-time in the UVa annals with Terry Kirby (1989-92).
Parks had 100 yards rushing, his fourth 100-yard rushing game of the season and the seventh of his career.
Anthony Harris picked off his seventh interception of the season in the third quarter and the eighth of his career.
The seven interceptions are the most by a UVa player since Ronde Barber led the ACC with eight in 1994.
The seven interceptions place Harris No. 4 all-time at UVa for picks in a season.
Harris now has an interception in four straight games and five total in that span.
Connor Wingo-Reeves made his first collegiate catch for four yards in the fourth quarter.
Greyson Lambert tossed his first career touchdown pass on a 23-yard scoring strike to Keeon Johnson in the fourth quarter.
The touchdown score by Johnson was the first of his career.
With three receptions, Jake McGee extended his consecutive games streak with a catch to 12.
With 28 receiving yards, McGee passed John Phillips (670) for No. 11 all-time at UVa among tight ends. McGee now has 679 career receiving yards.
Keeon Johnson extended his consecutive games streak with a catch to six games.
Taquan Mizzell extended his consecutive games streak with a catch to seven games.
Mizzell had a career-long 48-yard kick return in the fourth quarter.
North Carolina Postgame Notes
Carolina is now 60-53-4 all-time against Virginia, including wins in each of the last four contests. The four-game winning streak is UNC's longest in the series since the Tar Heels won nine in a row from 1974-1982. This is the first time UNC has won consecutive home games against the Cavaliers since 1995 and 1997.
The 45 points are the most by the Tar Heels against Virginia since a 48-20 win in 1997.
Carolina has averaged 38.5 points per game in its current four-game winning streak over Virginia (44 in 2010, 28 in 2011, 37 in 2012 and 45 in 2013). In the four-game losing streak that preceded it, the Tar Heels averaged 9.0 ppg (0 in 2006, 20 in 2007, 13 in 2008 and 3 in 2009).
Carolina has scored 154 points in its last four games against Virginia, the most by UNC in any four-game span against the Cavaliers since scoring 185 from 1934 to 1937.
The 31-point margin of victory is Carolina's largest against an ACC opponent since a 44-10 win over Virginia in 2010.
Carolina gained 415 yards Saturday, marking the 17th time in 21 games that the Tar Heels have gained at least 400 yards of total offense under head coach Larry Fedora.
Carolina was 5 for 5 on third down in the first quarter despite facing an average of 9.2 yards to gain. The Tar Heels averaged 14.8 yards per play on third down in the quarter.
The Tar Heels rushed for a season-high 201 yards, despite the fact that no individual gained more than 48. Sophomore tailback Romar Morris led UNC with 48 yards on four carries (one was a 41-yard gain). Quarterback Marquise Williams had 46, freshman tailback T.J. Logan gained 42 and freshman tailback Khris Francis had 35.
QB Marquise Williams passed, ran and caught touchdowns today. He completed 15 of 28 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns in his second career start. He also rushed 16 times for 46 yards and a score and caught a 29-yard touchdown pass. He is the first Carolina quarterback to catch a touchdown pass since Kevin Anthony in 1984.
WR Quinshad Davis was responsible for a pair of touchdowns Saturday, scoring on an 8-yard pass from Williams in the first quarter and throwing a 29-yard pass to Williams later in the quarter. He now has eight touchdown catches and two touchdown passes this season.
Davis had five receptions today and has 98 catches in his first two seasons. Only two other Tar Heels caught more passes as a freshman and sophomore than Davis - Hakeem Hicks (113) and Jarworski Pollock (102).
Tight end Eric Ebron made a season-low two catches, but those catches established the UNC career record for catches by a tight end with 96. He came into today's game tied with Zack Pianalto, who caught 94 from 2007-10.
WR Ryan Switzer returned a punt 85 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. The 85-yard return equals the fourth-longest punt return for a touchdown in UNC history. It was the first career touchdown return for Switzer, who has also thrown for a touchdown and scored via reception in 2013.
TB Khris Francis scored his first career touchdown in the fourth quarter, a 15-yard catch-and-run from Williams. Francis also rushed six times for 35 yards.
S Dominique Green scored his first career touchdown on a 68-yard interception return in the third quarter. It was Carolina's first defensive touchdown of the year and the Tar Heels' first interception return for a touchdown since safety Tre Boston at Virginia in 2012.
Boston grabbed his team-leading fourth interception of the year in the fourth quarter. Boston has 12 career interceptions, tied for third in school history.
LB Jeff Schoettmer had a team-high eight tackles (five solo), a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.
Bandit Norkeithus Otis had two quarterback sacks and another tackle for a loss.
Bandit Shakeel Rashad played for the first time this season and had a sack in the third quarter. Rashad was injured on the first day of fall training camp and was expected to miss the season.
Carolina's defense had three sacks, two additional tackles for losses, seven quarterback hurries, seven pass breakups and two interceptions.
Virginia's fourth quarter touchdown pass was the first against UNCs defense in four games. The last team to throw for a score against the Tar Heels was Virginia Tech on October 5th.
Carolina's defense has now allowed six offensive touchdowns in the last 16 quarters.
Virginia began 15 of 16 offensive possessions on its side of the 50-yard line. The only time UVa began a drive on UNC's side of midfield came with 3:29 to play in the third quarter after an interception. However, UNC followed with an interception of its own two plays later.
Over the last three games, all wins, the opponents have started 41 of 45 drives on its side of midfield.
Tailback Charles Brunson, cornerback Josh Broach, quarterback Kanler Coker, bandit Shakeel Rashad, punter Joey Mangili and wide receivers Dalton Stogner and Luke Heavner played for the first time this year.