UNC pulls away early in 53-14 victory over N.C. A&T

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Courtesy The News and Observer (WTVD)

North Carolina's 53-14 victory against N.C. A&T on Saturday lacked any drama or even much competitiveness, which means that it gave the Tar Heels exactly what they needed: an easy victory after a difficult season-opening defeat.

After failing to capitalize on opportunities in a humbling defeat against South Carolina to start the season, UNC did what it expected to do against the Aggies, a lower division opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision's Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference.

UNC on Saturday led 22-0 at the end of the first quarter and 36-0 at halftime. The Tar Heels mostly used the game to rebuild any confidence that might have been lost in that defeat against South Carolina, and they used it to prepare for more difficult tests ahead.

Turning point
Despite its deficiency in talent and depth, N.C. A&T showed an early proficiency on offense. Its most promising drive in the first quarter, though, ended with a fumble that UNC's Sam Smiley returned 52 yards to the Aggies' 2-yard line.

Two plays later, Elijah Hood scored on a 1-yard run to give UNC a 22-0 lead late in the first quarter.

Three who mattered
Marquise Williams: After throwing three interceptions - two of them in the red zone - Williams responded with a clean game against the Aggies. He completed 15 of his 20 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Mmost important, he didn't throw an interception.

Mitch Trubisky: UNC's backup quarterback entered the game on the third offensive series - as he did early last season - and passed for a touchdown midway through the second quarter. He also ran for a 35-yard touchdown that gave UNC a 53-0 lead in the third quarter.

Tarik Cohen: A preseason FCS All-American, Cohen had some nice moments for the Aggies. He ran for 69 yards and averaged 4.6 yards per carry in the first half.

Three key numbers
0 UNC turnovers. After committing three in the red zone during the loss against South Carolina the Tar Heels needed a clean game. They delivered one against N.C. A&T.

5 first-half touchdowns for UNC. Five of the Tar Heels' six first-half drives ended in touchdowns, a rate of efficiency that ensured that for competitive purposes the game was out of reach by halftime.

16 number of carries for Elijah Hood, the Tar Heels' sophomore running back. After facing scrutiny for not having him in the game in key moments against South Carolina, the UNC coaching staff made Hood a priority in the first half.

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