Tavien Feaster

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UNC coach Mack Brown wins first college football game since Thanksgiving 2013

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It’s been a long time coming for UNC head coach Mack Brown. In his first game on the sidelines since the 2013 season, Brown coached his Tar Heels to rally past South Carolina in the Belk College Football Kickoff Game in Charlotte, 24-20. It is the first time Brown has won a game since a Thanksgiving game between Brown’s Texas Longhorns and Texas Tech in 2013. On top of that, Brown got the win against his former assistant Will Muschamp, who was once named the head coach in waiting at Texas under Brown.

South Carolina had a 13-3 lead in the second quarter and took a 20-9 lead into the fourth quarter. But UNC kept grinding away and the defense rattled Gamecocks quarterback Jake Bentley. Bentley was intercepted twice in the final minutes of the game, both times by Myles Wolfolk, and he fumbled the football on the final play of the game. That ball was returned for a touchdown, but the game was already cemented in the win column for UNC.

For UNC, it was really the defense that led the way. South Carolina had just three third-down conversions in 13 tries and every possession after going up 20-9 ended with a punt or turnover the rest of the game for South Carolina.

Freshman quarterback Sam Howell got the start for UNC and he was solid in his Tar Heel debut. Howell passed for 245 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. Running back Javonte Williams went over the century mark to out-rush his South Carolina counterpart Tavien Feaster.

And here’s a fun little nugget. Brown has now won three consecutive games at UNC. Brown left UNC for Texas after the 1997 season, after UNC had gone 10-1 in the regular season. That season ended on a three-game winning streak with victories for UNC over Clemson, Duke and Virginia Tech (in the Gator Bowl, years before Virginia Tech was an ACC member). However, Brown did not coach the Tar Heels in the Gator Bowl because he left for Texas after accepting an offer from the Longhorns.

Brown will look to score his fourth consecutive win at UNC next week when UNC hosts Miami in an ACC Coastal Division matchup. Miami was off in Week 1 after opening their season against Florida in Week 0 (and losing to the Gators).

South Carolina will hope to get in the win column next week with a home game against Charleston Southern.

Mack Brown down at halftime in his return to UNC sideline

Photo by Jeremy McKnight/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Mack Brown is back on the college football sidelines, but the scoreboard is not in his favor in his first half back in the game. South Carolina leads Brown’s North Carolina Tar Heels 13-6 in the Belk College Football Kickoff Game in Charlotte.

Neither team has displayed stellar offense, as the defenses have been doing a solid job of keeping things from going off the rails. After exchanging field goals on the first two possessions of the game, South Carolina was the first to reach the end zone in the first quarter. Tavien Feaster went free for a 34-yard touchdown run on a drive that was jumpstarted by a personal foul penalty on Raymond Vohasek on the first play of the drive. Both teams later exchanged missed field goals before once again exchanging field goals in the second quarter. North Carolina’s 47-yard attempt was blocked after South Carolina’s Parker White missed a 53-yard attempt.

Jake Bentley of South Carolina has been praised as one of the better passers in the SEC, although he has not been lighting up the box score just yet. Freshman Sam Howell of North Carolina has had a pedestrian debut as well. If the first half was any indication, this game will be dictated more by the defenses in the second half. We may not have a shootout on our hands at all here.