The No. 21 North Carolina Tar Heels are developing a reputation as a second half team. During the team’s 31-27 victory Saturday against the San Diego State Aztecs at Kenan Stadium, the Tar Heels outscored the Aztecs 24-13 in the second half. A week ago, North Carolina scored 35 of its 56 points against the Liberty Flames in the latter half.
As the Tar Heels move forward this could prove to be a detriment once the schedule becomes much more difficult. North Carolina has two weeks to prepare for the East Carolina Pirates and their explosive offense. The Clemson Tigers, Virginia Tech Hokies and Notre Dame Fighting Irish are the next three teams on the docket.
North Carolina can claim victories over Liberty and San Diego State in this fashion, but Larry Fedora’s squad needs to become a more well-rounded team, particularly in conference play.
Despite these concerns, North Carolina can enjoy its victory against San Diego State. The Aztecs can move the football on offense and employ one of the most aggressive defensive schemes in college football. North Carolina showed the ability to adjust after the half and eventually take over the game.
Momentum finally swung in North Carolina’s favor with 13:45 remaining in the game and the team trailing by 10 points. Quarterback Marquise Williams connected with wide receiver Mack Hollins for a 91-yard touchdown pass. It only took one play to get the Tar Heels on a roll. Williams finished the game 20-of-29 passing for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The quarterback also gained 63 rushing yards.
The next time the Tar Heels had the ball, they drove the ball 80 yards on nine plays with a two-yard touchdown plunge from freshman running back Elijah Hood. North Carolina added a field goal the following drive for good measure. And the team needed it.
San Diego State didn’t back down from their nationally ranked opponent. The Aztecs drove the ball all the way to the Tar Heels 3-yard line with 14 seconds remaining. Senior safety Tim Scott rose to the occasion and intercepted a pass in the end zone.
North Carolina is now 2-0, but the program doesn’t want to make a habit of having to turn it on during the second half every week to win.