GREENVILLE, N.C. — The North Carolina football team fell to East Carolina, 41-19, dropping its second straight game to start the season. It is the first time the two teams have battled since a 70-41 beatdown by ECU in 2014.
On just the second play from scrimmage, UNC (0-2) junior running back Antonio Williams found a seam and streaked down the field for 48 yards to put the Tar Heels in good field position at the East Carolina 22-yard line. A few plays later, senior kicker Freeman Jones converted a 32-yard field goal for the first score of the day.
The Pirates (1-1) responded quickly, marching down the field 84 yards for a touchdown. The drive was capped by a six-yard touchdown run from senior Anthony Scott to make it a 7-3 game.
After a 3-and-out from both teams, UNC took the ball on its own 19-yard line. The Tar Heels quickly found themselves in trouble on third-and-14, but a pass from quarterback Nathan Elliott to running back Jordon Brown resulted in 28 yards and a first down. After gaining another first down, Jones converted his second field goal, this one for 44 yards.
A 30-yard run from Williams on the Tar Heels’ next possession put them in decent field position. UNC moved into the red zone and with 13:18 remaining in the half, Brown scored a 12-yard rushing touchdown to make it 13-7.
Starting from its 14-yard line with 13:18 left in the half, ECU marched 86 yards on 14 plays, scoring on a rushing touchdown from backup quarterback Holton Ahlers to move in front, 14-13.
Disaster struck for UNC with 5:02 left in the second quarter. A big gain from wide receiver Anthony Ratliff-Williams put the Tar Heels on the opponents’ 26-yard line. But on the play, Antonio Williams led with his helmet against an ECU defender, leaving him on the ground for more than ten minutes. Williams was ejected from the game for targeting and UNC was assessed a 15-yard personal foul penalty.
Following the delay, UNC settled for a 49-yard field goal a few plays later.