The North Carolina football team defeated James Madison by a final score of 56-28. After allowing JMU to score 21 points in the first quarter, North Carolina settled down defensively and held the Dukes to one touchdown in the remaining 45 minutes of play.
The North Carolina defense got off to a slow start, feeling the absence of injured defensive tackle Nazair Jones. James Madison had 222 yards of total offense in a dominant first quarter, and scored 21 points. The Dukes led 21-14 after the first quarter.
UNC settled in, though, starting in the second quarter. JMU did not score in the second quarter and managed just a single touchdown in the third.
The Tar Heel offense was efficient and explosive all afternoon. Mitch Trubisky and Ryan Switzer connected on a 75-yard touchdown pass on a flea flicker, a score in the first quarter that set the tone for the game.
The North Carolina rushing attack was led by Elijah Hood, who finished with 106 rushing yards on 18 attempts. He also had two scores.
Who stood out?
Quarterback Mitch Trubisky looked comfortable and in control all afternoon long, making only the third start of his career.
Trubisky finished 24 of 27 passing for 432 yards and three passing touchdowns, averaging over 20.2 yards per completion. And he didn’t even finish the fourth quarter, as Nathan Elliott came in for the closing drives.
Trubisky also broke two North Carolina football records Saturday — the record for most consecutive completions and most consecutive attempts without an interception.
When was it decided?
With 11:56 left in the fourth quarter, T.J. Logan scampered in for a 5-yard rushing touchdown. That score made it 56-28 in favor of the Tar Heels and effectively closed the door on any hopes of a James Madison comeback.
The touchdown was also Logan’s third rushing score of the day, which tied his career high. He also tallied three against Old Dominion in 2014.
Why does it matter?
Saturday’s win extends North Carolina’s home winning streak to eight games at Kenan Stadium.
The win also offers a lot of teaching points for Coach Larry Fedora and his staff. North Carolina committed 10 penalties, including a number of unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, to give up 110 yards in the game. That’s far too many and is something that will have to be cleaned up before the Tar Heels start ACC play.
Also, the defense can learn a few things from that poor performance in the first quarter. Pittsburgh’s James Connor and Florida State’s Dalvin Cook are the next two running backs UNC will face, and lazy tackling and poor play on the line won’t cut it against those two offenses.
North Carolina faces Pittsburgh next Saturday in Chapel Hill. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m.
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