Darrynton Evans rushed for three touchdowns, and Appalachian State held on to defeat North Carolina 34-31 on Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C.
North Carolina got the ball back at its 20 with 30 seconds to go and no timeouts before moving into Appalachian State territory. Noah Ruggles attempted a 56-yard field goal, but it was deflected at the line of scrimmage by Nick Hampton as time expired.
Appalachian State quarterback Zac Thomas threw for 224 yards on 20-for-29 passing and also gained 57 yards on six carries.
North Carolina freshman quarterback Sam Howell threw three touchdown passes but also two interceptions, going 27 of 41 for 323 yards.
The outcome resulted in a signature victory for first-year coach Eliah Drinkwitz, who had been North Carolina State’s offensive coordinator.
Trailing 34-24, North Carolina regained possession at its own 20 with 5:32 to play after an Appalachian State punt. Howell ran 2 yards for his first career touchdown after a bad snap with 3:01 left.
The Tar Heels (2-2) were in catchup mode since trailing 27-10 late in the second quarter. They drove 98 yards to score on Howell’s 12-yard pass to tight end Carl Tucker with 4:18 to play in the third quarter, pulling within 27-24.
Appalachian State (3-0) answered in five plays, with Evans scoring on a 3-yard run.
Defensive end Demetrius Taylor’s sack caused a fumble, and he scooped the ball and went 20 yards to give the Mountaineers a lead for the first time at 13-7 with 3:39 to play in the first quarter.
Two possessions later, Taylor intercepted Howell, returning the ball to the North Carolina 26. That set up Evans’ 5-yard touchdown run as the Mountaineers stretched their lead to 20-7 at the 12:29 mark of the second quarter.
North Carolina used a 15-play drive that included a fourth-down pickup before settling for Ruggles’ 25-yard field goal.
Evans ran in untouched on a third-and-2 pitch to complete a 79-yard march as the margin reached 27-10, 2:56 before the break.
Howell’s 11-yard screen pass to Michael Carter with one second to play in the half allowed North Carolina to close within 27-17.
Earlier, Carter began the game with a 75-yard kickoff return, and the Tar Heels followed by scoring on the game’s first snap. Howell threw a 21-yard pass to Dazz Newsome.
Appalachian State scored on its first possession on Chandler Staton’s 31-yard field goal. He hit from 43 yards later in the quarter.
The only other meeting between the teams came when North Carolina won the 1940 opener.
—Field Level Media