Scores

Final

McNeese State 27

(0-1, 0-1 away)

North Carolina 35

(1-0, 1-0 home)

6:00 PM ET, August 30, 2008

Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC

1 2 3 4 T
MCNS 0 14 6 727
UNC 7 7 7 1435

Top Performers

Passing: T. Yates (UNC) - 221 YDS, 2 TD, 1 INT

Rushing: B. Tate (UNC) - 3 CAR, 106 YDS

Receiving: B. Tate (UNC) - 4 REC, 93 YDS, 1 TD

Tate racks up 397 all-purpose yards as UNC nips McNeese State

Associated Press

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Brandon Tate put on a dazzling one-man show, scoring on an 82-yard punt return and putting North Carolina ahead for good with a 57-yard catch to help the Tar Heels hold off McNeese State 35-27 on Saturday.

Tate finished with a school-record 397 all-purpose yards for the Tar Heels, who showed little else in an unimpressive start to their second season under Butch Davis. In a game suspended nearly two hours due to weather, they blew a 14-0 first-half lead and had to rally from a third-quarter deficit against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent that outplayed them much of the way.

For all the preseason optimism that has abounded here, North Carolina had to rely almost solely on Tate's ability to weave through oncoming defenders or break free from the clutches of would-be tacklers on this night.

The senior started with a 56-yard return on the opening kickoff and had a 54-yard run that helped set up the Tar Heels' second touchdown. He also had a 38-yard punt return in the first quarter, finishing with 106 yards rushing and 93 yards receiving to break the school record of 339 all-purpose yards set by Derrick Fenner in 1986.

The 397 yards were second-most in Atlantic Coast Conference history.

Brooks Foster also had a touchdown catch for North Carolina, which compiled most of its 384 yards in the final 20 minutes. Shaun Draughn and Greg Little ran for fourth-quarter touchdowns that helped the Tar Heels stay in front.

Derrick Fourroux and Mark Fontenot ran for scores to lead the Cowboys, who scored 20 unanswered points after the game resumed. But after Fourroux's 2-yard score for the 20-14 third-quarter lead, the Tar Heels answered by going to -- who else? -- Tate.

Facing a third-and-6 near midfield, T.J. Yates heaved the ball deep to Tate, who caught it in stride and raced into the end zone for a 21-20 lead with 4:35 left in the third quarter.

Tate later broke the school record in fitting fashion, taking a handoff to the right side, then breaking free from Joshua Ellison -- who had a hold of Tate's collar -- and reversing field for a 20-yard gain early in the fourth.

The Tar Heels came into the season as the popular choice to challenge Virginia Tech for the ACC's Coastal Division crown. But North Carolina went three-and-out on its first drive, lost a fumble on its second and went three-and-out on its third before Tate scored on his 82-yard return.

Ultimately, the only thing that slowed Tate was the weather.

Officials suspended the game due to lightning with North Carolina leading 14-0 on Foster's short TD catch with 12:03 left in the first half. Both teams headed to the locker room before heavy rain arrived in a delay that lasted 1 hour, 48 minutes. A large chunk of the home crowd didn't return, and halftime was reduced to 5 minutes.

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Team Stat Comparison

 
MCNS
UNC
1st Downs2213
Total Yards391384
Passing239221
Rushing152163
Penalties8-645-51
3rd Down Conversions9-196-13
4th Down Conversions1-21-1
Turnovers22
Possession35:1624:44

Passing Leaders

McNeese StateC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Fourroux14/261817.011
North CarolinaC/ATTYDSAVGTDINT
Yates15/262218.521

Rushing Leaders

McNeese StateCARYDSAVGTDLG
Pendland26853.3013
Fourroux11433.9110
North CarolinaCARYDSAVGTDLG
Tate310635.3054
Little14372.6111

Receiving Leaders

McNeese StateRECYDSAVGTDLG
Lawrence47318.3042
Whitehead56713.4020
North CarolinaRECYDSAVGTDLG
Nicks611018.3071
Tate49323.3157

Scoring Summary

FIRST QUARTERMCNSUNC
TD03:09Brandon Tate 82 Yd Punt Return (Casey Barth Kick) 07
SECOND QUARTERMCNSUNC
TD12:03Brooks Foster 4 Yd Pass From T.J. Yates (Casey Barth Kick)
Drive: 6 plays, 67 yds, 2:16
014
TD06:01Mark Fontenot 1 Yd Run (Blake Bercegeay Kick)
Drive: 13 plays, 92 yds, 6:02
714
TD04:56Quinten Lawrence 70 Yd Punt Return (Blake Bercegeay Kick) 1414
THIRD QUARTERMCNSUNC
TD05:35Derrick Fourroux 2 Yd Run (Pat Blocked)
Drive: 11 plays, 53 yds, 5:39
2014
TD04:35Brandon Tate 57 Yd Pass From T.J. Yates (Casey Barth Kick) 2021
FOURTH QUARTERMCNSUNC
TD09:02Shaun Draughn 13 Yd Run (Casey Barth Kick) 2028
TD04:20Greg Little 5 Yd Run (Casey Barth Kick) 2035
TD01:47Corday Clark 16 Yd Pass From Derrick Fourroux (Blake Bercegeay Kick) 2735