CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - North Carolina got off to a fast start under new coach Butch Davis, getting three touchdown passes from first-time starter T.J. Yates to beat James Madison 37-14 on Saturday.
Yates threw for 218 yards -- including a 65-yard score on his first college throw -- for the Tar Heels, who won their season opener for just the third time in a decade. Brooks Foster caught two touchdown passes, while redshirt freshman Anthony Elzy ran for a pair of short scores.
North Carolina scored the first 24 points and never was threatened by James Madison (0-1), a Football Championship Subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) program. It all started with Yates, a redshirt freshman, finding Foster on the third play for the long score that enthralled a sellout crowd still teeming with the optimism that began with Davis' arrival last fall.
Davis, who rebuilt Miami into a powerhouse before spending four seasons with the Cleveland Browns, had to like what he saw from his new team. Despite plenty of youth and inexperience, the Tar Heels were efficient on offense while their defense -- long a sore point in six struggle-filled seasons under coach John Bunting -- showed few chinks until the Tar Heels were in firm control against an overmatched opponent.
Rodney Landers threw a touchdown pass for the Dukes, while Eugene Holloman ran for 82 yards.