Gamecock offensive line struggles, UNC defense shines in opener

UNC's defense sacking Rattler for one of their 9 sacks on the night Photo credit Jim Dedmon - USA Today Sports

The Tar Heels won this weekend's "Battle Of The Carolinas" matchup downing the Gamecocks 31-17 Saturday night in the season opener for both teams. South Carolina's offensive line struggled to create holes in the run game and keep the UNC defense out of the backfield.

The Gamecocks were held to -2 rushing yards on the night. North Carolina's defense which had struggled mightily last season came up big. The Tar Heels had 9 sacks and 16 tackles for loss. The struggles for South Carolina upfront mirrored the same issues they had much of last season.

The 1st half was back in forth with UNC getting on the board first to lead 7-0. The Gamecocks answered with a TD drive of their own to tie it at 7, that score would stand at the end of the 1st quarter. In the 2nd quarter, UNC would go up 10-7 on a 37 yard field goal from Ryan Coe. South Carolina answered with a 72 yard scoring drive, capped by a Juju McDowell TD run to lead 14-10. The Tar Heels would score with 2:50 left in the half on a TD pass from Drake Maye to Kobe Paysour to lead 17-14 at the break.

the 3rd quarter belonged to North Carolina, as they had two TD drives to take control of the game and lead 31-14 after three quarters. South Carolina got a field goal in the 4th, which would be all the points they could muster in the 2nd half.

In the much anticipated QB matchup, Spencer Rattler was 30 of 39 for 353 yards. Those numbers are even more impressive considering he was under pressure much of the night and was sacked 9 times. Drake Maye was 24 of 32 for 269 yards, 2 TD's and 2 picks.

UNC dominated the run game outgaining SC 168 to -2, Tar Heel RB British Brooks led the ground game charge with 15 carries and 103 yards. South Carolina's Xavier Legette was impressive, he led all receivers with 9 catches for 178 yards.

The 21st ranked Tar Heels are now 1-0, they have their home opener this week hosting Appalachian State. South Carolina will also be at home for the 1st time this season. They host Furman Saturday night for a 7:30 kickoff. You can hear that and every Furman Football game on The Fan Upstate.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Jim Dedmon - USA Today Sports