RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Barrington Edwards ran for a career-high
129 yards and a touchdown, Matt Baker recovered from a miserable
first half to throw for the go-ahead score and North Carolina held
off North Carolina State 31-24 Saturday.
The Tar Heels (1-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) beat their
rival from just down the road for the 10th time in the past 13
meetings by finally finding a running game. In two opening losses,
they had only 118 yards on the ground, then totaled 144 against one
of the best defenses in the country.
On the second play of the game, Edward rumbled 62 yards -- 3 more
than his two-game output -- to give North Carolina an early chance
to take the lead. But Baker threw on interception in the end zone
that simply was the beginning of his struggles.
He was 1-for-9 for only 3 yards in the first two quarters before
finding his rhythm after halftime. At one point, Baker completed
seven consecutive passes, including one that went 10 yards for a
touchdown to Jon Hamlett that gave the Tar Heels a 28-24 lead.
A much-maligned defense held it. N.C. State (1-2, 0-2), which
came in leading the ACC in total offense, gained 270 yards, nearly
200 less than its average. The Wolfpack managed only 13 yards on
Freshman Toney Baker ran for two touchdowns and Jay Davis added
another through the air for N.C. State, but it wasn't enough. The
Tar Heels took advantage of two fumbles in the first half, both of
which gave them possession inside the Wolfpack's 10-yard line.
Those came during an awful opening 30 minutes for both teams.
North Carolina also made two turnovers, even if Baker's
interception indirectly helped lead to its first points.
N.C. State went backward on three plays and lined up to punt,
but William Lee's snap sailed high and delayed John Deraney's kick.
Wallace Wright broke through to block it, Quinton Person snatched
the loose ball and sprinted 11 yards for a touchdown.
Later, with the Wolfpack driving at the end of the second
quarter, they used all their timeouts and allowed the clock to run
out after a completion from Davis to Anthony Hill moved the ball to
North Carolina's 7.
The second half started much better. Darrell Blackman took the
opening kickoff 73 yards and Baker ran the final 2 to give N.C.
State a 17-14 lead. A three-and-out by the Tar Heels led to great
field position for the Wolfpack, and Davis quickly made it work,
throwing a 39-yard TD to tight end T.J. Williams, who was
celebrating his 23rd birthday.
North Carolina came back. Baker started clicking with short
passes to combat a brutal pass rush by N.C. State, and he led an
80-yard drive that culminated in Edwards' 2-yard touchdown run. On
the Tar Heels' next possession, Baker ran his streak of completions
to seven and found Hamlett for what turned out to be the winning
Connor Barth, who missed two field goals earlier, connected from
24 yards to make it a seven-point lead, and the Wolfpack never
really threatened after that.