After a disastrous first half against Louisville last week that left North Carolina trailing 36-7 at halftime, the Tar Heels got off to a better start against East Carolina, leading 10-6 at halftime.
Though the teams traded punts on each of the first three drives of the game, UNC overcame dismal field positon on its second drive to convert an 11-play, 91-yard drive, which ended with a 14-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Bryn Renner to running back Giovani Bernard.
Bernard, who returned after missing two games with a knee injury, had seven yards rushing and 36 yards receiving on the drive, including a 30-yard catch that ushered the Tar Heels into the red zone.
Bryn Renner, who completed 7 of 8 passes for 94 yards on the Tar Heels’ first scoring drive, finished the half 17 for 22 with 208 yards and a touchdown.
The first quarter ended with ECU knocking on the door at the Tar Heels’ four-yard line, but after a UNC third-down stop, the Pirates kicked a 24-yard field goal, capping a 14-play, 70-yard drive.
The Tar Heels would answer with a 20-yard field goal from kicker Casey Barth, which was facilitated by a 34-yard reception from tight end Eric Ebron, giving the Tar Heels a 10-7 lead.
East Carolina cut into the Tar Heels’ lead with a 15-play, 66-yard drive that ended in a 26-yard field goal by ECU kicker Warren Harvey, making the score 10-6.
The Tar Heels attempted to make the most out of the final 1:29 of the half, but the their promising drive sputtered, and after a third down fumble by Renner that was fortuitously recovered by guard Jonathan Cooper, Barth missed a 34-yard field goal attempt.
It was his first missed field goal since North Carolina played Duke in 2010.
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