In an earlier-than-usual rivalry matchup, the No. 14 North Carolina football team (4-1, 4-1 ACC) handled No. 23 N.C. State (4-2, 4-2) on Saturday, 48-21. Up 17-7 at the half, the Tar Heels used a dominant run game to put the Wolfpack away, winning the rivalry game in a rout for the second straight year.
The Tar Heels breezed downfield on their first drive of the game, with Sam Howell completing all five of his pass attempts and Michael Carter scampering 16 yards for a touchdown. UNC's next possession petered out after a holding penalty, but was followed by another methodical march to the end zone, culminating with a Howell rushing score to make it 14-0.
N.C. State, meanwhile — without starting quarterback Devin Leary, who suffered a broken fibula last week — had recorded just one first down to that point. The offense promptly kicked into gear after benching redshirt junior Bailey Hockman for true first-year Ben Finley, who led N.C. State to the red zone, before his tight end bobbled a wide-open touchdown catch and UNC's Don Chapman swooped in for the interception.
It seemed like it was going to be that kind of day for the Wolfpack, but the Tar Heels left the door open before halftime. After a missed Grayson Atkins field goal — his fourth miss in six tries this season — Finley responded by finding Emeka Emezie for a 42-yard touchdown.