CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) There will be bigger tasks ahead for No. 14 North Carolina, but the way the Tar Heels took care of matters Saturday should give them confidence they can meet those challenges.

Drake Maye threw for three touchdowns and ran for another as North Carolina remained undefeated with a 40-7 victory over Syracuse.

“We’re playing to a standard,” coach Mack Brown said. “This was important to (our players) to get better and that’s what they did.”

The Tar Heels (5-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) overpowered the Orange with a ball-control offense that churned out 644 yards total offense and about twice as much time of possession.

Receiver Tez Walker made his North Carolina debut two days after he was cleared to play by the NCAA following a long transfer-eligibility case, but the Tar Heels had plenty of offense even with his minimal contributions.

“Kind of wanted to get him the groove,” Maye said. “Glad to see him out there. What a great story.”

Maye completed 33 of 47 passes for 442 yards without an interception. The longest pass play was Kobe Paysour’s 76-yard touchdown reception after he tipped a slightly off-target pass to himself and then outraced the Orange secondary to end zone.

“He saved my butt there,” Maye said.

Nate McCollum caught seven passes for 135 yards and Paysour gained 100 yards on three catches.

Syracuse (4-2, 0-2) had 221 yards of total offense. Quarterback Garrett Shrader was 15 for 21 for 124 yards and an interception.

“There was real football out there,” Orange coach Dino Babers said. “That’s a good team. Those guys were big, strong and fast and they executed very well.”

North Carolina’s Noah Burnette kicked four field goals.

The Orange was held to 70 total yards in the first half. The Orange opened the second half on a 75-yard drive with LeQuint Allen’s 1-yard TD run.

North Carolina’s defense allowed 11 first downs – the fewest in a game in 11 years.

“We had a big challenge on our hands. I thought we handled it well,” nose tackle Tomari Fox said. “The odds were already against them (coming off a loss and on the road). We couldn’t give them any help.”

The Tar Heels used 14 plays to go 64 yards for Burnette’s 29-yard field goal on the game’s opening possession.

North Carolina’s second scoring drive ended on Maye’s 1-yard sneak, covering 94 yards in 17 plays. It included a Tar Heels punt that was blocked by Syracuse’s Denis Jaquez Jr., but punter Ben Kiernan scooped the ball and barely picked up a first down.

Maye connected with tight end Bryson Nesbit in the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown in the second quarter to complete a nine-play, 77-yard march.

The margin grew to 24-0 after Maye’s 1-yard flip to tight end John Copenhaver to cap a 95-yard drive.

North Carolina has scored 30 or more points in its first five games for the second year in a row. The Tar Heels eclipsed the 600-yard mark with more than 12 minutes to play.


The Tar Heels appeared on the verge of wearing out the Orange. North Carolina had 39 of the game’s first 48 plays. First downs were 15-1 in the Tar Heels’ favor at that point.

By the end of the first half, Maye had completed 23 passes. Syracuse had 22 total snaps (and the last of those was a kneel down to end the half).

“I don’t think I’ve seen a first half that dominant in a long, long time,” Brown said.


Walker’s first catch came on a 6-yard play on North Carolina’s second possession, shortly after he was on the field for his first snap.

“It’s a blessing to be out there,” Walker said.

The former Kent State player finished with six receptions for 43 yards. The six catches were second on the team among the 11 Tar Heels who caught passes in the game.

Walker had to make a late-week transition from the scout team.

“The young man is living his dream,” Brown said.


Syracuse: The Orange didn’t have much time to showcase an offense that was impressive in the first four games of the season but has failed to generate much in ACC play.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels were fresh and energized coming off an open date and they clicked offensively in the first of three straight home games.


North Carolina could climb a bit after its fourth victory by a double-figure margin, all against Power 5 opponents.


Syracuse: Saturday at No. 5 Florida State.

North Carolina: Home Saturday vs. No. 17 Miami.


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