On UNC’s first drive, Howell threw his third interception of the season to Georgia Tech junior defensive end Antwan Owens. Then, later in the opening quarter, sophomore receiver Dyami Brown dropped a deep ball that would’ve given UNC its first touchdown of the game.
But, by the middle of the second quarter, Howell and his receivers — who collectively had six drops on the day, four in the first quarter — finally found their rhythm.
With 6:30 to play in the first half, the first-year connected with junior receiver Dazz Newsome for a 20-yard touchdown. Then, in the final seconds of the second quarter, Howell hit junior receiver Beau Corrales for another score.
A big third quarter gave Howell 302 passing yards heading into the final quarter of play. It was only the first-year’s second career game of throwing for 300-plus yards.
But he wasn’t finished.
Howell put the game away with two more touchdowns in the fourth quarter, one to Brown and the other to redshirt junior tight end Garrett Walston. His 377 yards of total offense and 376 passing yards were program bests for first-years.
One week after going play-for-play with Clemson's Trevor Lawrence, the Indian Trail, N.C. native impressed again against the Yellow Jackets, giving UNC reason to believe it can compete against any team with Howell under center.
UNC’s O-line dominates Georgia Tech
Though Howell was sacked once, the Tar Heel offensive line had its way with the Yellow Jacket defensive line for most of the contest.
Heading into the matchup with UNC, Georgia Tech had given up 254.5 rushing yards through four games, the third-worst mark in the country. Not much changed Saturday.
UNC’s offensive line consistently created holes for its running backs. Like Howell, sophomore running back Javonte Williams had his best game as a Tar Heel, carrying the ball 20 times for a career-high 144 yards. After gutting the Yellow Jacket defense for most of the day, he put the cherry atop his performance by finding the end zone on a three-yard rush to give UNC a 23-point lead with 3:24 left.
He wasn’t the only running back to give the Georgia Tech defense fits, though. Junior Michael Carter also had 20 carries, totaling 68 yards on the ground in the contest.
Saturday marked the second straight game where the UNC offensive line impressed, overcoming an injury to center Nick Polino to give Howell and the running backs the opportunity to make plays.
Mack Brown ties Dick Crum for most wins in program history
With the victory, head coach Mack Brown tied Dick Crum’s record for most wins in school history with 72.
Before Brown's first tenure as the Tar Heels’ head coach began in 1988, Crum was at the helm of the program. The one-time ACC Coach of the Year led UNC from 1978 to 1987, during which time he took the team to six bowl games and had two seasons with 10 or more wins.
In his first go-round, Brown finished with a 69-46-1 record in 10 years in Chapel Hill. Now, he’s one win away from becoming the winningest coach in Tar Heel history.
Though breaking records has to be nice for the Hall of Fame coach, the progress he’s made less than a year into his return is just as noteworthy. Brown has already exceeded UNC’s win total from last year at the halfway point of the 2019 season.
With three wins and six competitive outings under its belt, Brown has North Carolina looking ready to make its first bowl appearance since 2016.
@DTHSports | firstname.lastname@example.org