CHAPEL HILL During the days leading into his first game as North Carolinas head coach, Larry Fedora expressed doubt. He said he didnt know what to expect out of the Tar Heels in their season opener against Elon.
UNC here on Saturday at Kenan Stadium might have exceeded even Fedoras most optimistic hopes. The Tar Heels scored seven of their nine possessions in the first half and cruised to a 62-0 victory against the Phoenix, a lower-division FCS team from the Southern Conference.
UNCs 62 points were the most in school history, breaking the previous record of 65. The Heels set a record for most points in a coach's first game.
After UNC hired Fedora last December, he promised an up-tempo, exciting style of play. The Heels delivered, repeatedly, on Saturday. They had touchdown drives that lasted 10 seconds, 19 seconds and 50 seconds. Three other touchdown drives lasted less than two minutes.
UNC gained 300 yards on its first 30 plays, and sophomore running back Giovani Bernard scored the Heels first three touchdowns one on a run, one on a pass reception and one on a 70-yard punt return.
Bernards first touchdown came on a 59-yard run down the left sideline. He received a path-clearing block from Sean Tapley, and then Bernard tight-roped the sideline, stayed in bounds and outran the Elon defense.
Bernard finished with 202 all-purpose yards and gained 93 yards rushing. He averaged 10.3 yards per carry on his nine rushes, but left the game not long before halftime with what the UNC radio broadcast crew described as knee discomfort.
Bernard did not return to the sideline during the second half and an update on his status was not immediately available.
Nonetheless, Bernards performance was indicative of the kind UNC gave on Saturday. The Tar Heels simply out ran or ran through the overmatched Phoenix.
Sophomore quarterback Bryn Renner completed 12 of his 19 attempts during the first half for 184 yards and two touchdowns. His 35-yard touchdown pass to Jheranie Boyd gave UNC a 31-0 lead with 9:48 left to play in the first half.
Renner left the game after one offensive possession in the third quarter. He ended his day after completing 14 of 21 passes for 237 yards and three touchdowns. The last of those went for 23 yards to Jack Tabb, and that put UNC ahead 48-0.
The Heels only mistakes came on a pair of turnovers a Renner interception and an A.J. Blue fumble that came deep in Elon territory. But Elon didnt capitalize on either of those mistakes.
UNCs 4-2-5 defense stymied Elon. The Phoenix during the first half made it as far as the Heels 20-yard line, but Sylvester Williams tipped Thomas Wilsons pass, which Jabari Price intercepted off the deflection.
Elon receiver Aaron Mellette, who led FCS teams a season ago with averages of 10.3 receptions and 149 receiving yards per game, struggled to get involved on Saturday. He had just two catches for 9 yards through the first three quarters.
Under backup quarterback Marquise Williams, meanwhile, the Heels offense continued to produce. Williams helped lead UNC to score third-quarter touchdowns, one of which came on Williams 3-yard run. Blue later scored on a 4-yard run to put UNC ahead 62-0.