Talk about making a statement.
The North Carolina football team quieted any questions on its ability against the big names with a 38-12 rout against then-No. 24 Connecticut on Saturday.
And the Tar Heels (4-1) did it with just 13 offensive first downs.
""There were lots of emotional ups and downs and flows" and it was kind of hard offensively to get into a little bit of rhythm coach Butch Davis said after the game.
Because you'd go out there and you'd score in a couple plays" and then the defense would get an interception or block a punt. It was kind of a bizarre game.""
Bizarre it was. UNC's offense garnered only 263 yards on 49 plays in a game that featured three blocked punts"" three interceptions and a safety who became the first 100-yard rusher this year.
And all that unconventional play ended up not only in a rout but also in UNC's first AP Top 25 ranking since October 2001.
""You know" it's nice but it's just like the 24-hour rule" Davis said Sunday. The season isn't over.
""We're here ranked after week five"" but I don't think they give any trophies for week five rankings.""
UConn. (5-1) kicked off the scoring with a field goal" but it didn't take long for kicker Casey Barth to match that with his first collegiate field goal on UNC's second drive.
Their next 14 points were set up by a defensive play and a special teams play when a Mark Paschal interception opened up a drive that ended in Ryan Houston's one-yard run and then Bruce Carter's third blocked punt of the game was grabbed in the end zone.
Suddenly the Tar Heels were up 17-3 with five minutes left in the first half and the rout was on.
Houston's run opened up a powerful rush offense Saturday that claimed 146 yards — and more importantly no rushes for loss.
And 109 of them came from Shaun Draughn" the safety-turned-rusher who became UNC's first to pass the century mark this year.
""It feels good" he said after the game. The first back to do it. And I wanted to give the team a spark like I always do and when I came in the game I got a swagger like" I'm going to make something happen.""
Much of that is credited not only to Draughn"" whom Davis called an ""unknown commodity"" before this season" but a retooled and much-improved offensive line.
Then again Draughn and the O-line had plenty of time to retool and reboot on the sidelines — and that's not mentioning the game's 31-minute delay to fix two of the stadium's light banks.
Five minutes into the second half UConn. had two-thirds of the possession time" out-handling UNC 23:21 to 11:33.
That meant a whole lot of field time for the defense.
""I'm freakin' beat" guys Paschal said after the game. I'm exhausted. I couldn't even move for a little bit" I was so exhausted.""
Especially" Paschal said after UConn.'s final attempt at a comeback an 84-yard drive with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter.
Though star running back Donald Brown finally popped out the long run he had been due all game" his 65-yard touchdown was too little too late for a Huskies team that was abused all game.
""I think that with the No. 1 rusher coming in here" I think any decent competitive unit is gonna take that as ‘Well he's not gonna leave the No. 1 rusher" UNC quarterback Cam Sexton said.
Sexton had little to do but manage all game though he did complete a few big throws on third-and-longs and sent Hakeem Nicks, with a 13-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, past the 2,000-yard mark in career receiving.
Though Nicks, Draughn and Houston all crossed the goal line for UNC, the biggest run to the house came not from a back but defensive lineman Marvin Austin's 23-yard run after he picked UConn. backup quarterback Zach Frazer — Frazer's third of the game.
I told Marvin in the locker room they're going to start timing guys with hourglasses after that run"" Davis said after the game.
That's the longest … run I think I've ever seen in my life.""
Davis said his theme for the players this week was"" ""If you want more"" you have to do more.""
Paschal said the team took that to heart"" coming in early to practice or look over film before classes.
""You can't say enough about the unit as a whole" just coming in — I mean it sucks getting up at 5:30. I mean" it's not any fun.
""But this is freakin' worth it"" man.""
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