Tar Heels bounce back 53-14 over North Carolina A&T

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Marquise Williams bounced back from his poor season debut in a big way.

Williams passed for 211 yards and accounted for three touchdowns to help North Carolina beat North Carolina A&T 53-14 on Saturday night.

Elijah Hood rushed for 56 yards and two scores for the Tar Heels (1-1), who won their home opener for the fifth consecutive year.

Sharing snaps with backup Mitch Trubisky, Williams committed no turnovers nine days after he threw three interceptions in North Carolina’s season-opening loss to South Carolina.

“My main key was just to come out here and have fun,” Williams said. “I was excited on the way here, and my body felt great.”

North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said he decided before the game to insert Trubisky for North Carolina’s third series, but he told neither quarterback ahead of time.

He did not reveal whether he will continue the trend in future games.

“Marquise is the starter, and he’s playing well,” Fedora said. “We’ll see. I just decided to do that going into this game, and we’ll see going into the next one. It depends on what’s going on.”

North Carolina improved to 4-0 under Fedora against Football Championship Subdivision competition, winning those games by an average of more than 47 points per game.

The Tar Heels scored touchdowns on five of their first six possessions while racing out to a 36-0 lead at halftime.

They led 53-0 until Kwashaun Quick scored on a 1-yard touchdown run for North Carolina A&T (1-1) late in the third quarter.

Quick was 7 of 19 for 78 yards and two interceptions for the Aggies, who dropped to 0-3 all time against Football Bowl Subdivision foes.

It was a difficult homecoming for North Carolina A&T coach Rod Broadway, a former defensive lineman and assistant coach at North Carolina.

“They were too good for us, too fast for us, and we made way too many mistakes in the first half,” Broadway said.

Hood rushed for 138 yards on just 13 carries in North Carolina’s season-opening loss to South Carolina, prompting questions about why he didn’t get the ball more. His workload wasn’t an issue against the Aggies.

Hood had eight carries in the first quarter, including a pair of bruising 1-yard touchdown runs that bookended a 47-yard touchdown catch by Kendrick Singleton.

Tight end Brandon Fritts added touchdown catches of 2 yards and 1 yard, the first two receptions of his career, in the second quarter.

Trubisky threw the first of those scoring strikes, and he added a 35-yard touchdown run in the third quarter.

“I wanted to get him some meaningful reps,” Fedora said. “I didn’t want to tell him that he was going, so that if a situation happens like that during the season, he is ready and prepared to go.”

The Aggies had some success moving the ball against North Carolina’s retooled defense, but the Tar Heels came up with key takeaways as they built their lead.

Sam Smiley recovered a fumble and returned it 52 yards to set up Hood’s second touchdown, and Shakeel Rashad intercepted a pass to thwart the Aggies’ most promising drive of the first half. M.J. Stewart also had an interception for the Tar Heels.

North Carolina has held each of its first two opponents to fewer than 20 points, something it did not accomplish a single time last season. The Tar Heels also have shut out their opponents in four of eight quarters after registering just four scoreless quarters all of last season.

“I won’t say we’re happy with where we’re at because we’re not satisfied,” Rashad said. “We’re absolutely not satisfied with where we’re at. We can grow so much more.”