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Tar Heels Step Out Of Conference For ODU

Tar Heels Step Out Of Conference For ODU
CHAPEL HILL --- Riding a four-game win streak, North Carolina plays host to Old Dominion on Saturday, Nov. 23, in a non-conference matchup at Kenan Stadium. The game will kick off at 12:03 p.m. and will be televised on the ACC’s Regional Sports Network (RSN). This is the Tar Heels’ eighth game at either noon or 12:30 p.m. this season.

A win on Saturday over the Monarchs would make Carolina bowl eligible, a remarkable turnaround for a squad that started the season 1-5. After the Tar Heels lost their fifth game of the season to Miami, head coach Larry Fedora said, “We’re going to find a way to win football games. That’s going to happen.” Since then, Carolina has won four in a row with an improved defense, game-changing plays in the kicking game and an efficient offense.

Last week, Carolina evened its record at 5-5 overall and improved to 4-3 in ACC play with a 34-27 victory at Pitt. The Tar Heels jumped ahead early with a pair of rushing touchdowns from quarterback Marquise Williams and the first of two punt return scores by freshman Ryan Switzer. Thomas Moore’s second field goal with 11:27 remaining in the third quarter gave Carolina what felt like an insurmountable 27-3 lead. But Pitt stormed back to tie the game at 27 and had the ball with less than seven minutes remaining. Carolina forced a punt and Switzer returned it 61 yards for what proved to be the game-winning score.

If Carolina is to win its fifth straight game - a feat that has not occurred since 2001 - the Tar Heels will have to get past an 8-3 Old Dominion team that is in a transition year from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) to the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS). Next season, ODU will join Conference USA. Carolina and ODU have never met in football and this is the latest the Tar Heels have played a non-conference regular season game since 2001 when the SMU game was rescheduled to Dec. 1 due to the 9/11 tragedy.

The Monarchs enter Saturday with their own four-game win streak after posting wins over Norfolk State, Rhode Island, Idaho and Campbell. Their last last lost came at Pittsburgh on Oct. 19.
 
The Tar Heels return to league play the following weekend (Nov. 30) when they play host to Duke in the regular-season finale. It marks the first time Carolina has ended the season with consecutive home games since 2001.

AT A GLANCE
Records: North Carolina 5-5, Old Dominion 8-3
Rankings: Both teams are unranked. 
TV: ACC Regional Sports Networks (click for affiliates). Wes Durham (play-by-play), Brian Stann (analyst) and Jenn Hildreth (sideline) have the call.  
Radio: Tar Heel Sports Network, a division of Learfield Communications. Jones Angell (play-by-play), Ethan Albright (analyst) and Lee Pace (sideline) have the call. A link to the live stream can be found at GoHeels.com.
On The Web: GoHeels.com • Twitter: @TarHeelFootball@CoachFedora
Tickets: GoHeels.com

QUICK HITS
• More than 18,000 North Carolina elementary school kids and their families will be in attendance at the Old Dominion and Duke home games as part of the athletic department’s Academic All-Stars program. The elementary school kids will be recognized at the game and receive a certificate for their accomplishments.
• Of Carolina’s 36 total touchdowns this season, 28 have been scored by freshmen or sophomores, including the last 12 in a row.
• Carolina is looking to extend its current win streak to five games Saturday. The last time Carolina won five in a row came in 2001 when the Tar Heels knocked of FSU, NC State, ECU, Virginia and Clemson.
• DE Kareem Martin ranks seventh in the country in tackles for loss and 12th in the nation in sacks. Through 10 games, he has posted 16.0 tackles for loss and 9.0 sacks. He is sixth all-time at UNC with 39.5 TFLs.
• QB Marquise Williams has been Carolina’s leading rusher in four of the last six games, including last week’s career-best 79-yard effort at Pitt. Williams has been responsible for 13 touchdowns this year - four rushing, eight passing, one receiving.
• TE Eric Ebron’s next catch will be his 50th of the season and 100th of his career.
• Ebron has 690 yards receiving and is 181 yards shy of the ACC single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end, set by Maryland’s Vernon Davis with 871 in 2005. Ebron has 46 catches and is 24 receptions shy of the ACC record for catches by a tight end, set by Virginia’s Heath Miller with 70 in 2003.
• Ebron currently ranks third on the ACC single-season record book chart for receiving yards by a tight end.
• Freshman Ryan Switzer has the single-season school record with three punt return touchdowns. The ACC single-season record is four by Maryland’s Steve Suter in 2002. The ACC career mark is six, also held by Suter. Three of Switzer’s last five punt returns have gone for touchdowns.
• Carolina is sixth in the country in punt returns with a 16.33 average. Carolina, North Texas and USC are the only schools in the nation with three punt return touchdowns.
• Carolina is limiting opponents to 3.4 yards per punt return, which ranks 13th in the country. The Tar Heels have allowed just 55 total punt return yards, 23 of which came on one return by NC State.
• Fourteen different Tar Heels have scored at least one touchdown this season. Nine of those 14 are either freshmen or sophomores (five are true freshmen).
• WR Quinshad Davis has already caught 102 passes in his first two seasons. Only two other Tar Heels caught as many passes as a freshman and sophomore – Hakeem Hicks (113) and Jarworski Pollock (102).
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