DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — Javonte Williams scored four first-half touchdowns and North Carolina rolled past Duke 56-24 on Saturday afternoon.
Sam Howell threw three touchdown passes and rushed for another score for the Tar Heels (5-2, 5-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who were playing without a national ranking for the first time this season. Just like last month, they responded from a three-point loss to whip a neighboring rival, with North Carolina State the previous victim.
Williams gained 151 rushing yards on 12 carries as part of North Carolina’s output of 573 yards of total offense.
“He does everything right,” coach Mack Brown said of Williams. “He’s as good as anyone in the country breaking tackles.”
Backfield mate Michael Carter scored two touchdowns, posting 85 yards on the ground on 17 attempts. Howell finished 18-for-27 for 235 yards and an interception.
Duke quarterback Chase Brice was 11-for-23 for 155 yards. Teammate Mataeo Durant gained 132 yards on 11 carries, highlighted by a 46-yard touchdown run.
The Blue Devils (2-6, 1-6) are guaranteed a losing regular-season record for the third time in five seasons.
Discounting the one snap after getting the ball back with a second left in the first half, the Tar Heels scored touchdowns on their first seven possessions.
Duke’s defense recorded just one sack.
“You’ve got to give them credit for coming out with that game plan,” Duke defensive end Chris Rumph II said. “They executed. We’ve got to go back to the drawing board.”
North Carolina posted two touchdowns less than five minutes into the game. Howell’s 2-yard fourth-down pass to Williams accounted for the first score and Howell ran 3 yards untouched for the next TD.
It was 21-0 with 2:06 left in the first quarter after Williams’ 4-yard touchdown run. The Tar Heels added to the onslaught on the second play of the second quarter when North Carolina’s Carter bulled into the end zone at the end of a 22-yard pass play from Howell.
Duke finally scored on a 22-yard end-around by receiver Eli Pancol.
North Carolina responded on Williams’ 32-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-2 play. Williams added a 33-yard touchdown run 1:55 before halftime.
It was a strange setting as these rivals met for the 107th time, yet Wallace Wade Stadium was empty of fans because of coronavirus-related restrictions on Duke’s campus.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels have scored more than 40 points in four games, including three in a row. This time, they eclipsed 40 by halftime.
Duke: The Blue Devils committed two turnovers, boosting their season total to 25. They have just 14 takeaways this season, with one against North Carolina on Michael Carter II’s interception.
The largest margin of victory in a North Carolina-Duke football game is a 50-0 outcome in favor of the Tar Heels in 1959 in Durham. While the Tar Heels didn’t match that, they did compile the fourth-highest point total by either team in the series.
It was a comfortable margin.
“We got to play lots of people,” Brown said. “Other than winning that game, that was probably the most important thing.”
North Carolina: Host to Wake Forest next Saturday.
Duke: The Blue Devils have an open weekend before concluding a three-game homestand Nov. 21 vs. Wake Forest.
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