UNC Beats The Pirates 31-17

By: Bill DiNicola Email
By: Bill DiNicola Email

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- T.J. Yates threw for two touchdowns while freshman receiver Erik Highsmith had a big game to help No. 24 North Carolina beat East Carolina 31-17 on Saturday.

Highsmith had six catches for 113 yards and a score for the Tar Heels, who are off to their first 3-0 start since winning the first eight games in 1997. His big day included a pair of key catches to move the chains on the Tar Heels' clock-draining drive that ended with Ryan Houston's 5-yard score with 1:58 left in the game.

Jheranie Boyd also had a juggling 59-yard touchdown grab for his first collegiate catch, and North Carolina got a solid all-around effort from its young offense to complement another strong performance from its defense.

East Carolina (1-2) got a touchdown catch from Jamar Bryant and a TD run from Dwayne Harris, but finished with just 247 total yards.

The Tar Heels had cruised past The Citadel in the opener, then had to rally in the fourth quarter to win at Connecticut 12-10 last weekend. This time, they faced a veteran instate rival that had knocked off Virginia Tech and West Virginia last season on the way to the Conference USA championship - and they responded with the kind of performance that should give coach Butch Davis cause for optimism in his third season.

Yates completed 19 of 24 passes for 227 yards while spreading the ball around to several talented but unproven receivers. Highsmith came up with a 16-yard touchdown catch for North Carolina's first score, while fellow rookie Boyd hauled in Yates' deep ball to make it 14-7 in the second quarter.

Highsmith made his biggest plays in the fourth quarter, after the Pirates had closed to within 24-17. First he took a quick out from Yates and sprinted 43 yards for first down. Two plays later, Yates rolled to his left and found Highsmith again for a 10-yard gain and another first down that ultimately led to Houston's second TD of the day.

That kind of production is critical for the Tar Heels as they try to replace the production lost when receivers Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Tate and Brooks Foster became NFL draft picks.

In perhaps a good omen, Highsmith became the first true freshman to crack the 100-yard mark here since Nicks did it three times in 2006.

The offensive line, which played without injured senior center Lowell Dyer, also opened up enough running lanes for Houston and Shaun Draughn. Houston's 1-yard score late in the first half put North Carolina ahead for good at 21-14, while Draughn ran 19 times for 84 yards.

The Pirates handed Davis his first loss as North Carolina's coach in 2007 with a last-play field goal in Greenville. Pinkney threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns in that game, but threw for just 157 yards and a touchdown in this one. He got no help from the rushing attack, either; East Carolina had 55 yards on 30 carries.

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  • by state fan on Oct 14, 2009 at 09:59 AM
    givingYOUabreak, who give a crap about unc, they suck, and those six different sport are mostly soccor and mens polo which we all know are the best sports ever right?? yeah good one man
  • by Coach M Location: RMT on Oct 13, 2009 at 12:39 AM
    I get soooo tired of UNC fans saying, "wait til BB season." Well it ain't BB season. If you can't stand that the only team you can really brag about is a team that belongs in Div II anyway, get a life. Sorry ECWho fans but that's how it is. Oh and GIVINGYOUABREAK very good ...LOL
  • by Jennifer Location: Garner on Sep 26, 2009 at 02:20 PM
    Okay, seriously? yall are gonna act like unc is good because they beat ecu at football? i'm a pirate fan but shut your mouths cause ecu is conference usa not acc. you can't expect them to win a game like that.
  • by John Location: G-ville on Sep 26, 2009 at 05:29 AM
    Dave: you find everything disturbing...some life
  • by givingYOUabreak Location: washington on Sep 25, 2009 at 06:27 PM
    "One trick pony"?? The Tar Heels have thirty-five (35) national championships in six sports. 9th best in the nation. 57 individual national titles. http://tinyurl.com/ybdn3dw Successfully belittling a team that just beat your team successfully belittles YOUR team even more! Nice! -- ECU did show up in the list... four individual titles in division II swimming. -- When you walk the plank, you need to swim! Bwa-ha-ha.
  • by gimmeabreak Location: Morehead City on Sep 23, 2009 at 01:41 PM
    Hey TarHeel...before you invite the Gators to play "roundball" remember they have National Championships in both sports in the same year...something the "one trick pony" Tarheels can never produce!
  • by BunkerBob Location: in a bunker on Sep 23, 2009 at 12:59 PM
    I feel Skip should shouldn't be fired because of his QB decision. Rob Kass should be the starter but remember a few years back when he got his DWI that pretty much killed his QB days. I agree that Pinckney is mediocre at best.Our field goal kicker Hartmen should sit the bench as well. I blame the assistant coaches for not giving Skip quality performances. We all know head coach is administrative, the assistants do all the work. Greg Hudson should stop letting his secondary players learn coverage from a Madden video game. The QB coach should be let go and Shankweiler as well for letting it happen. It still amazes me how in 6 YEARS there has been nobody better than Patrick Stinkney!!
  • by Dave on Sep 23, 2009 at 09:16 AM
    FL/ECU GRAD I find it quite disturbing that you spelled GATORS incorrectly.
  • by Leslie Location: Wilson on Sep 23, 2009 at 08:46 AM
    Come on ECU fans, Skip has been in Greenville for 5 years and Patrick Pinkney is the best he can do for a QB? He's a John Thompson leftover. It starts with recruiting, he's has no QB or RB to speak of.
  • by TarHeel Location: Ayden on Sep 23, 2009 at 08:42 AM
    FL/ECU GRAD: You are right. Carolina football fans have very little chance to sound off. But, come November, bring on those Gators and let's play some round ball.

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