No. 3 Texas 52, North Carolina 21
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Senior QB Chris Simms threw four touchdown passes and sophomore RB Cedric Benson rushed for 208 yards and two scores as the third-ranked Longhorns defeated North Carolina 52-21 in Chapel Hill.
The UT offense generated 569 total yards (271 rush/298 pass) -- the 23rd-best effort in UT history -- and the defense forced a pair of critical turnovers as the Longhorns posted their 18th consecutive victory against a non-ranked opponent and ninth road win in a row (excluding neutral-site contests).
Junior WR Roy Williams had five receptions for 136 yards and a pair of touchdowns, giving him a UT-record 17 career TD receptions. Junior WR B.J. Johnson also worked his way into the school's record book, catching a pass for the 27th consecutive game. Johnson (one reception for 21 yards) moved ahead of Mike Adams, who previously held the UT mark with a reception in 26 straight contests.
Texas jumped to a 24-point lead and moved the ball at will for much of the first half. Benson topped the 100-yard mark in the opening half, rushing 21 times for 115 yards, while Simms had plenty of time to find open receivers. The 6-foot-5, 225-pounder threw for 175 yards and two scores.
North Carolina's offense struggled early, going three-and-out four times in the half. The Tar Heels rallied in the second half, but Simms and the Longhorns responded to every spurt. UNC twice pulled within 10 points on second-half touchdown drives only to see Simms provide a momentum-killing response. The Franklin Lakes, N.J., native fired a 10-yard scoring pass to senior TE Chad Stevens late in the third quarter to make it 31-14 and followed with a 58-yard scoring pass to Williams for a 38-21 lead. Benson added a 17-yard touchdown run with six minutes remaining and true freshman RB Selvin Young scored on a 30-yard scamper in the closing minutes to seal the 31-point victory.
North Carolina moved the ball effectively in the second half, relying mainly on the running of QB Darian Durant and RB Jacque Lewis. However, the Tar Heels couldn't overcome the early deficit and several costly miscues. Junior FS Dakarai Pearson intercepted a pair of Durant passes in the end zone to kill drives, while a 15-yard facemask penalty on Michael Waddell on a kickoff return set up Simms' scoring pass to Stevens.
The Longhorns opened the game with a 75-yard drive that culminated with a 22-yard field goal from sophomore PK Dusty Mangum. From there, the Longhorns had touchdown drives of 71, 68 and 64 yards on three of their next four possessions. Junior RB Ivan Williams gave Texas its first touchdown when he hauled in a 35-yard pass from Simms, marking the first scoring catch of his career. Less than two minutes into the second quarter, Benson punched the ball in from four yards out and the Longhorns were up 17-0. Roy Williams extended the lead to 24-0 with an over-the-shoulder grab in the end zone from six yards out, and with time running out in the first half, the Texas defense had yet to allow a single point. However, UNC got on the board with 17 seconds remaining in the half when Durant scampered 27 yards for a touchdown.
Senior DE Cory Redding was a disruptive force for the Longhorns defense, registering eight tackles, one TFL and a career-high eight QB pressures. Senior SLB Lee Jackson added nine stops, a sack and three QB pressures, while junior MLB Reed Boyd posted a team-high 11 tackles. Senior CB Rod Babers and Pearson each registered three pass breakups to lead a UT secondary that posted 11 PBUs.