NORFOLK, Virginia -- Chazz Surratt gave North Carolina exactly what it needed - a solid, mistake-free performance that allowed the Tar Heels to take control early and end a season-opening two-game losing streak.
Surratt ran for two touchdowns and threw for one as the Tar Heels dominated Old Dominion 53-23 Saturday.
"I thought he made some good decisions, didn't put the ball in harm's way, which was important," coach Larry Fedora said after the redshirt freshman completed 16 of 24 passes for 257 yards.
The game wasn't quite the 80-20 victory the Tar Heels (1-2) handed the Monarchs four years ago but seemed to have the potential for that as North Carolina took a 39-7 lead at halftime. The Monarchs' only points came on a 100-yard kickoff return by Isaiah Harper.
North Carolina, meanwhile, scored three touchdowns, each on a drive lasting under 2 minutes, in a span of 4:12 in the second quarter. After losses to California and No. 14 Louisville to open the season, both with poor defensive efforts, the victory was critical.
"I think winning eases a lot of things," Fedora said. "It was important to get this win and the alternative is not very good."
With students streaming for the exits before halftime, Old Dominion (2-1) turned to 17-year-old freshman Steven Williams Jr., at quarterback. The left-hander used a 19-yard run to set the Monarchs up at the UNC 5 but fumbled the ball away two plays later.
In the second half, with Williams behind center, two pass interference calls against North Carolina aided a drive to Nick Rice's 48-yard field goal. Williams later hit Travis Fulgham for a 71-yard touchdown and Hasaan Patterson for an 18-yard score.
"We did not play well which was why we made the move to go to a true freshman," coach Bobby Wilder said, adding that Williams provided the spark - and the production - Old Dominion's struggling offense had been looking for in its first two games.
He will be the starter going forward, Wilder said.
Jordon Brown ran for 125 yards and he and Michael Carter each ran for two touchdowns.
Surratt left last week's loss to Louisville with an injury at halftime, and LSU transfer Brandon Harris played well in a relief role.
He showed no signs of being hurt against Old Dominion, but Fedora wasn't ready to declare him the starter going forward.
"I don't know. We have to go back and look at the video and see what he did," he said.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels looked bad, especially defensively, in their first two games, but the second came against the most dynamic player in the college game, Louisville's Lamar Jackson. They were much better against weaker competition, which could be a sign of improvements to come, and seem to have a very dynamic and accurate dual-threat quarterback in Surratt, a redshirt freshman.
Old Dominion: Wilder said this week he thinks his team has closed the size gap somewhat on the line when compared to FBS-level teams, but the gap is still sizeable, and the speed difference only gets exaggerated by the size deficiency across the lines and skill positions.
But Wilder didn't see it that way.
"We got overwhelmed by execution," he said. "That was a clinic by them in the first quarter."
North Carolina goes back into ACC play as it plays host to unbeaten Duke.
Things don't get any easier for Old Dominion, which travels to No. 16 Virginia Tech.
Surratt leads North Carolina past Old Dominion, 53-23