ATLANTA (AP) — Nick Chubb rushed for 222 yards in his return from a gruesome knee injury, including a 55-yard touchdown run late in the fourth quarter that clinched No. 18 Georgia's 33-24 victory over No. 22 North Carolina in Kirby Smart's debut as the Bulldogs' coach Saturday night.
Chubb scored a pair of touchdowns for Georgia (1-0), sending the largely red-clad crowd at the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game into delirium when he broke loose down the right sideline with 3:34 remaining and the Bulldogs clinging to a two-point lead over the Tar Heels (0-1).
Leaving no doubt he was fully recovered from a horrific knee injury that looked like it might be career-threatening, Chubb carried a staggering 32 times and was every bit as dominating as the Heisman-touted back he was before.
Georgia also got some promising play from freshman quarterback Jacob Eason, who didn't start but was on the field as the Bulldogs rallied from a 24-14 deficit in the second half.
North Carolina ripped off 17 straight points, including a pair of touchdowns by T.J. Logan that included a 95-yard kickoff return to start the second half.
But a pair of pass interference penalties on freshman cornerback Patrice Rene set up a touchdown that got Georgia back in the game, and two more penalties — one an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on coach Larry Fedora — backed the Tar Heels up deep in their own territory, leading to a safety when Elijah Hood caught a short pass in the end zone and was quickly knocked down for a safety.
Fifth-year senior Greyson Lambert started at quarterback for Georgia, but Eason — a touted freshman Georgia fans were clamoring to see — hooked up with Isaiah McKenzie on a 51-yard pass that set up William Ham's go-ahead, 29-yard field goal with 5:27 remaining.
The Tar Heels were eager for a signature win over a major-conference foe, but too many silly mistakes — and some questionable calls — went against them. Despite 11 wins a year ago, they have yet to show they are ready to challenge Clemson and Florida State in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Tar Heels hit the road again next Saturday to face Big Ten school Illinois. It will be their first visit to Champaign since 1971. North Carolina leads the series 3-0, including last year's 48-14 rout in Chapel Hill.