ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Though the turnaround Mack Brown is engineering with North Carolina football in his second go-round in Chapel Hill is just beginning, the end to Year One could not have been any more promising for the future of the program.
True freshman Sam Howell threw for 294 yards and three touchdowns, along with catching a touchdown pass, as North Carolina routed Temple 55-13 in the Military Bowl, the Tar Heels’ first victory in a bowl since 2013.
The Tar Heels won five games in the past two years, including a 2-10 season last season, before the school turned back to Mack Brown, who was head coach at the school from 1988-1997. Brown’s first order of business was to secure the services of Howell, a four-star prospect in the state of North Carolina who initially committed to Florida State.
Howell’s performance today confirmed Brown’s persistence in recruiting him to Chapel Hill, as well as provides much hope for Tar Heels fans looking for a return to greatness on the gridiron. Howell threw two touchdown passes in the first half, a 36-yard score to Rontavius Groves in the first quarter and a 16-yard score to Dazz Newsome late in the second, as the Tar Heels opened up a 20-6 halftime lead.
Howell and Groves switched roles in the third quarter on a trick play, with Groves throwing a 2-yard score to Howell to open up a 41-6 lead. Newsome caught his second touchdown pass from Howell with 13:51 remaining in the fourth.
The three touchdown passes allowed Howell to break the FBS record for most touchdown passes by a true freshman with 38.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Friday afternoon’s game, with all photos taken by DC-area photographer Yusuf Abdullah. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 19 pictures in total.