November 23, 2019 / 11:54 PM / 20 days ago

North Carolina cruises past Mercer in home finale

Michael Carter ran for three touchdowns and Sam Howell threw three touchdown passes as North Carolina overwhelmed visiting Mercer in a 56-7 romp Saturday in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Nov 23, 2019; Chapel Hill, NC, USA; North Carolina Tar Heels linebacker Dominique Ross (3) hits Mercer Bears wide receiver David Durden (13) causes a fumble during the first half at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The home finale marked only the second game this season for the Tar Heels (5-6) that the final margin was greater than seven points.

North Carolina, which snapped a two-game losing streak, must win next Saturday at rival North Carolina State to secure bowl eligibility for the first time since 2016.

Howell, a freshman who didn’t play in the second half, set a single-season school record by throwing for 32 touchdowns, passing Mitch Trubisky’s record of 30.

Howell was 10-for-13 passing for 152 yards. His biggest yardage play went for a touchdown of 66 yards to Dyami Brown late in the first quarter.

He also threw for scores of 4 yards to Jake Bargas and 33 yards to Emery Simmons.

Carter scored on runs of 45, 9 and 60 yards, the latter coming in the third quarter. He finished with 159 rushing yards on nine carries.

Antonio Williams’ 11-yard run opened the scoring just 90 seconds into the game. British Brooks added a 12-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter.

The Tar Heels cranked out 376 yards on the ground.

North Carolina led 42-0 at halftime. The margin provided plenty of opportunities for reserves to log lots of playing time, something rarely feasible for the Tar Heels this season.

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Mercer (4-8), a Football Championship Subdivision member, ended its season. The Bears managed less than 100 yards of total offense through three quarters.

Mercer scored on backup quarterback Harrison Frost’s 2-yard pass to Kareem Rogers with 3:38 remaining to complete a 10-play, 90-yard drive.

It’s the fourth year in a row that North Carolina defeated a Southern Conference team in the second-to-last game of the regular season.

North Carolina played without receiver Dazz Newsome, who was suspended after missing a practice during the week.

—Field Level Media

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