Saturday, September 1, 2012

UNC leads Elon 41-0 at halftime

CHAPEL HILL — During the days leading into his first game as North Carolina’s head coach, Larry Fedora expressed doubt. He said he didn’t know what to expect out of the Tar Heels in their season opener against Elon.

UNC during the first half here on Saturday at Kenan Stadium might have exceeded even Fedora’s most optimistic hopes. The Tar Heels have scored on seven of their nine possessions and hold a 41-0 halftime lead against the Phoenix, a lower-division FCS team from the Southern Conference.

After UNC hired Fedora last December, he promised an up-tempo, exciting style of play. The Heels delivered in the first half. UNC gained 300 yards on their first 30 plays, and sophomore running back Giovani Bernard scored the Heels’ first three touchdowns – one on a run, one on a pass reception and one on a 70-yard punt return.

Bernard’s first touchdown came on a 59-yard run down the left sideline. He received a path-clearing block from Sean Tapley, and then Bernard tight-roped the sideline, stayed in bounds and outran the Elon defense.

That was a common sight throughout the first half: the Heels simply outrunning the overmatched Phoenix.

Bryn Renner completed 12 of his 19 attempts during the first half for 184 yards and two touchdowns. His 35-yard touchdown pass to Jheranie Boyd gave UNC a 31-0 lead with 9:48 left to play in the first half.

The Heels’ only mistake of the half came when Renner threw an interception with about seven minutes to play in the half. Elon took over on its own 32-yard line, but the Phoenix couldn’t capitalize in the turnover.

UNC also debuted its 4-2-5 defense, which held Elon to 92 yards on 36 plays – an average of less than 3 yards per play. The Phoenix made it as far as the Heels’ 20-yard line, but Sylvester Williams tipped Thomas Wilson’s pass, which Jabari Price intercepted off the deflection.

Bernard, meanwhile, finished the half with 203 all-purpose yards, including 93 rushing yards on 9 carries. He left the game late in the first half with an undisclosed injury and his status was unknown.
Overall, UNC finished the half with 336 yards on 43 plays – an average of nearly 8 yards per play.

--Andrew Carter