Big third quarter spurs Tar Heels past #Gamecocks 31-17 (AUDIO)

The UNC defense kept Spencer Rattler on the run all night (Chris Gillespie)

North Carolina dominated the third quarter to open up a cushion in what was a tight game with USC Saturday night at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte and went on to a 31-17 victory over the Gamecocks in the season opener for both teams. The Gamecocks led 14-10 in the second quarter, but the Tar Heels reeled off 21 straight points to take control. They outgained the Gamecocks in the third quarter 148-20.

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye lived up to his pre-season hype bedeviling the Gamecocks vulnerable secondary most of the game. He was picked off on consecutive possessions late in the third quarter and early in the fourth quarter. Despite that, he completed 24-32 for 269 yards and two touchdowns.

Spencer Rattler and Xavier Legette were the offense for USC. With no running game whatsoever (11 yards after sacks), the Gamecocks had to live off the passing game, and Rattler delivered with 353 yards on 30-39 passing with no interceptions. Nine of his completions went to Legette for 178 yards, both career high marks. But Rattler was under constant pressure by the UNC defensive front. Much maligned last season when they totaled only 17 sacks, the Tar Heels got Rattler to the ground nine times for 54 yards in losses, and they totaled 16 tackles for loss.

Despite all that, the Gamecocks had their chances with three possessions deep into North Carolina territory in the second half, but they could only get a field goal out of it. Two later opportunities ended on downs.

Final Stats

There was little room to run for Dakereon Joyner and the RBs (Chris Gillespie)

Here’s my view from Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte

Gamecocks Postgame

Shane Beamer

Spencer Rattler

Xavier Legette

Deebo Williams

Xavier Legette had a career night with nine catches (Chris Gillespie)

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