Running game emerging for Tar Heels

After relying on its passing game behind quarterback T.J. Yates for the first three games, North Carolina banked on its running attack in the 42-17 victory over East Carolina.

"The story of the game was our ability to run the football and not turn the ball over offensively," coach Butch Davis said after the Tar Heels ground out 263 yards on 46 rushes against the Pirates.

North Carolina had two backs rush for more than 100 yards each in a game for the first time since 2004.

Senior Johnny White had a career-high 140 yards on 16 carries and senior Shaun Draughn had 27 carries for 137 more, just one yard shy of his career high.

It's the first time since 1993 that two Carolina backs have topped the 130-yard mark rushing. Leon Johnson (147) and Curtis Johnson (144) did it that year against Ohio University.

"We started off kind of slow, but we got it going in the second half," Draughn said.

The Tar Heels had only 40 yards rushing in the first half.

The big factor was the play of the offensive line.

"We really had to kind of ride on their back to be honest with you," Davis said. "We missed a few plays in the passing game, but T.J. had a really good passing day. At one point I think he was 12-of-14 so he got off to a really good start, but we missed some throws that could have been some really big plays.

"We never really got into any rhythm in the first half so what we talked about at halftime was that we wanted to get our offensive line and running backs some opportunities."

The Tar Heels (2-2) get back into Atlantic Coast Conference play for their next three games, starting with a visit from Clemson Saturday. They are at Virginia and at Maryland the two games after that.

NOTES: North Carolina's appeal to have the NCAA-mandated suspensions of CB Kendric Burney and FS Deunta Williams reduced was denied. They were suspended six and four games, respectively, for receiving improper benefits in the form of trips paid for by what the NCAA determined was an agent. Williams served the last game of his penalty by sitting out the win over East Carolina. Burney will miss the next two games but will be eligible when the Heels go to Miami on Oct. 23.

QB T.J. Yates continued his fine play with an 18-of-26 passing day for 181 yards and two touchdowns against East Carolina last weekend. (Getty Images)
--QB T.J. Yates continued his fine play with an 18-of-26 passing day for 181 yards and two touchdowns. He didn't have an interception. Yates has now completed 577 of 951 attempts for 6,761 yards and 45 touchdowns in his career. He is second in UNC history in attempts, completions, yards and touchdowns.

--The Tar Heels were turnover-free against the Pirates, the first time this season they have managed to get through a game without an interception or fumble. It's the first time since last season's win over Miami they have managed that.

GAME BALL GOES TO: TB Shaun Draughn -- Draughn, who hasn't been able to work his way back into the starting lineup because of the play of Johnny White, came up a yard short of his career high when he logged 137 yards on 27 carries. He scored three touchdowns in the second half, two in the fourth quarter when he amassed 98 yards of his rushing total.

KEEP AN EYE ON: SS Da'Norris Searcy -- Given the OK to play just the day before the game, the senior and returning starter who had been held out while the NCAA and school conducts investigations in academic and eligibility issues had an interception return of 46 yards for a touchdown. He was credited with three tackles, ran back three punts for an 8.0 average with a long of 20, and returned two kickoffs for 55 yards with a long of 35.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We're pretty happy right now. We are getting guys back game-by-game. These guys are excited and energetic and ready for the next game." -- QB T.J. Yates, on the two wins for North Carolina after losses in the first two games. Top Stories