GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- Bryn Renner threw four touchdown passes while Giovani Bernard ran for 146 yards and a score to help North Carolina beat East Carolina 35-20 on Saturday night.
Renner threw for 230 yards, including a 75-yard touchdown to Erik Highsmith and a 47-yard TD toss to Dwight Jones in a dominating first-half performance by the Tar Heels (4-1). North Carolina scored the first 21 points and never looked back, rolling to 326 yards in the opening half and converting two early turnovers into quick touchdowns to silence a record home crowd for the Pirates (1-3).
Dominique Davis and East Carolina's offense finally built some momentum in the third quarter, getting a touchdown pass to Lance Lewis and closing to within 28-13 entering the final quarter. But, while the Pirates moved the football most of the game, they never recovered from that disastrous start and fell to 0-3 against BCS teams.
Turnovers are again an issue for the Pirates as ECU has given the ball away on each of their first three possessions.
The second turnover inside the Pirate 20 yard line resulted in the Tar Heel touchdown.
UNC also scored after the third turnover with a 75-yard touchdown pass to West Craven product, wide receiver Erik Highsmith.
Giovani Bernard has rushed for more than 100 yards in the first half. His 13th carry went for 10 yards and a touchdown to put the Tar Heels up 21-0 in the second quarter.
Michael Barbour hit a 35-yard field goal for the Pirates with 7:40 left in the first half.
UNC answered right back with a touchdown drive. Bryn Renner tossed a 47-yard bomb to Dwight Jones that was tipped in the air and then caught for the score.
Dominique Davis threw his second interception of the game right before half time, but UNC couldn't convert the turnover into points as Thomas Moore missed a field goal for the Tar Heels as time expired in the first half.
East Carolina has 4 turnovers through two quarters.
ECU showed signs of offensive life midway through the third quarter when a drive that started inside their own 5 yard line concluded with a 23-yard strike from Dominique Davis to Lance Lewis.
The Pirates are within 2 scores heading into the fourth quarter after a 25-yard Michael Barbour field goal with :30 seconds left in the third quarter.
Dwight Jones hauled in his second touchdown of the day in spectacular fashion as the UNC receiver snatched the ball out of the air with one hand for the score.
Freshman Danny Webster scored late in the fourth quarter for the Pirates.
The Tar Heels improve to 4-1 on the season with the 35-20 victory. ECU falls to 1-3.
GREENVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- North Carolina travels to East Carolina on Saturday night for the first time in four years.
The instate rivals will play in front of a rowdy sellout crowd, with the Tar Heels seeking to beat the Pirates for the third straight season. Last year, the Tar Heels (3-1) forced the Pirates' pass-heavy offense into three interceptions and held East Carolina (1-2) to a season-low 17 points.
This time, the Pirates are hoping to improve a running game that looked sharp last week against UAB. Junior college transfer Reggie Bullock ran for 169 yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, the most yards for an East Carolina player under Ruffin McNeill.
ECU running backs coach Clay McGuire says the running backs can be the "X-factor" in the Pirates' offense.