Rutgers 21, North Carolina 16
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP)—Ray Rice rushed for 201 yards and a career-high three touchdowns, and Rutgers withstood a late scare from North Carolina and beat the Tar Heels 21-16 Saturday.
Rice had 128 yards by halftime, finished with touchdown runs covering 2, 7 and 10 yards and became the first Rutgers rusher with three consecutive 100-yard games since Jacki Crooks did it in 1998.
Rice, who finished last season by surpassing 100 yards rushing in his final two games, had 31 carries and was 16 yards shy of his career high of 217 yards, set in 2005 against Connecticut.
Mike Teel was 14-of-20 passing for 145 yards for Rutgers (1-0), which began its season with a win for the fourth time in coach Greg Schiano’s six seasons.
But in this one, the Scarlet Knights had to sweat out a late comeback bid by North Carolina.
Rutgers led 21-10 midway through the fourth quarter before the Tar Heels closed to within five points on Joe Dailey’s 2-yard touchdown pass to freshman Hakeem Nicks with 5:09 remaining. They went for 2, but Dailey’s pass was intercepted by Joe Porter.
North Carolina had one last chance when it forced a punt, got the ball back at its own 27 and advanced to the Rutgers 29. But Dailey’s third-down pass was intercepted by Manny Collins, and the Scarlet Knights ran out the final 1:52.
North Carolina (0-1) came in determined to prevent Brian Leonard, the Scarlet Knights’ do-it-all fullback, from beating them, and they succeeded, limiting him to 25 yards rushing on six carries and four receptions for 20 yards.
But that focus on Leonard enabled Rice to have one of the best games of his career.
Rice’s 2-yard touchdown run in the first quarter capped a 93-yard drive and put Rutgers ahead 7-0.
Then, after Carolina tied it at 7-all, Rice took over again.
On the ensuing drive, he accounted for 61 of the Scarlet Knights’ 62 yards, and his 7-yard touchdown run with just over 2 minutes left before halftime put Rutgers ahead 14-7.
Rice added a 10-yard TD run to cap Rutgers’ first possession of the second half.
Dailey, a Nebraska transfer, was 24 of 36 passing for 234 yards in his first start for the Tar Heels, but was intercepted twice by Collins.
Dailey scored North Carolina’s first touchdown when his 4-yard bootleg run on the first play of the second quarter made it 7-7.
Connor Barth ended the first half with a 47-yard field goal to pull North Carolina to 14-10.
Ronnie McGill led the Tar Heels with 94 yards rushing on 14 carries. Brooks Foster caught six consecutive passes from Dailey and finished with 11 receptions for 120 yards.