CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WTVD) -- South Carolina roughed up North Carolina on Thursday, pushing the Tar Heels around from the opening kick in the Duke's Mayo Bowl en route to a 38-21 win.
The Gamecocks went into Thursday's game averaging 319 yards per game but had 312 in the first half alone, moving the ball over 11 yards per play against a struggling UNC defense. South Carolina finished with 543 total yards and completed 10 consecutive passes with their first miss coming late in the third quarter.
"Our game plan was 100% stop the run today, and they rush for 301 yards," North Carolina coach Mack Brown said. "We didn't play consistently well throughout the day on defense."
Dakereon Joyner, who had not thrown a pass all year, hit tight end Jaheim Bell on what would be a 69-yard score on USC's first possession. Bell then ripped off 66 yards on a pass from Zeb Noland to put South Carolina up 15-0 with 7:40 minutes left in the first quarter.
Joyner, who was named the game's most valuable player, finished 9-of-9 passing for 160 yards and also ran for 64 yards.
"Everyone on offense was locked in and keyed into the details," Bell said.
Bell had five catches for 159 yards and two touchdowns.
"Early on in the game, they came out hot," said UNC linebacker Tomon Fox. "Our defense settled in a little bit but unfortunately, we still ended up losing the game. It's just a whole mindset to come out there with more energy and want it more than the other team."
Trailing 18-0, UNC finally got off the deck in the second quarter. Senior British Brooks set a UNC and Charlotte bowl record on a 63-yard run for the Heels' first points of the game. The Tar Heels cut the lead to 8 after a field goal, but the defense gave up too many big plays. Juju McDowell went 35 yards nearly untouched to make it 25-10.
"We found ourselves with some slow starts a lot of times this year," said Howell, who passed for 205 yards and one touchdown. "We started to recover from those. We had another slow one today which can't happen if you expect to run the game."
In likely his final game as a Tar Heel, dual-threat quarterback Sam Howell was limited to just throwing. The Gamecocks held Howell to only three net yards, his lowest rushing total of the season. He was sacked four times.
"Even with me and the quarterback draw play, I thought they did a good job stopping that," Howell said. "We had good run plays schemed up, we just had to do a better job executing."
The second half was more of the same. South Carolina scored on its opening possession when Kevin Harris capped a 75-yard-drive with a 1- yard run for a 32-13 lead. Harris shredded UNC's defense for 169 yards rushing.
The Tar Heels finished the season 6-7 after being ranked No. 10 in the preseason poll. The Gamecocks finished 7-6.
Howell would not definitively say whether he played his last game for the Tar Heels.
"I still have some decisions to make. But if this is my last game, just forever grateful for everything. It's been a blessing to be here at Carolina," said Howell, the most prolific quarterback in school history. "I just want to do what God wants me to do. So it will just be a lot of prayer."
The teams agreed beforehand that the winning coach, ultimately Shane Beamer, would be doused in Duke's Mayonnaise after the game:
Beamer got hit in the back of the head by the cooler before 4 1/2 gallons of mayo cascaded over his face and down his shirt, capping the Gamecocks' celebration.
"I got hammered in the back of the head from the cooler - and then came the mayo," Beamer said. "I may have a concussion. It was awful."
He changed his shirt for the postgame news conference, but joked, "I still have mayo in my pockets."
-- The Associated Press contributed.