After a pair of field goals from Rutgers, the Tar Heels struck again — this time a 60-yard scamper from Giovani Bernard.
Bernard received a toss from Renner, bounced outside and took off down the sideline. He split a handful of Knights halfway to the house, but they only had the chance to wave at him on his way by.
“He just slipped behind everybody and made a great play,” Renner said. “It really sparked us.”
When they managed to maintain possession, the Tar Heel offense had a productive day. Jones had his second straight 100-yard game and UNC tallied 132 yards on the ground.
But UNC won the game on the other side of the ball.
With more than five minutes to go in the first quarter, Renner threw his first interception of the game, and it was returned all the way to the two-yard line.
The Tar Heel front line came up big and stopped Rutgers cold on the goal line. The fourth down stop preserved North Carolina’s touchdown lead and kept a big score off the board.
“We stopped them,” interim head coach Everett Withers said. “They tried to run the power — we fit the gap. We stopped them … this game ain’t real hard.”
The domination on the line of scrimmage limited Rutgers to a single rushing yard on 20 carries. Given the lack of success of the running game, Rutgers coach Greg Schiano elected to throw a little more often. But that didn’t slow down the defense too much, either.
The UNC defense sacked quarterback Chas Dodd four times and hit him 10 more times, keeping him under constant pressure all day. Withers said he put an emphasis on getting to the quarterback and added that penalties that go along with it are often just part of the game.
“I have a hard time getting real angry at our guys for sacking the quarterback,” Withers said.
Near the end of the first half, Mohamed Sanu made a snazzy, one-handed catch as he scored Rutgers’ first touchdown of the game.
Trailing 14-12, Schiano decided to go for the two-point conversion, but Dodd couldn’t make the completion. The missed conversion left a two-point spread that would eventually be the difference in the game.
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