The Belk Bowl has come to an end, and it was all North Carolina for the duration. The Tar Heels came out victorious over the Cincinnati Bearcats by a score of 39-17, securing a winning record for the season.
North Carolina's secondary was able to contain Cincinnati quarterback Brendon Kay nicely over the course of the game. Kay was only able to complete 15 of his 35 passing attempts for 181 yards, zero touchdowns and one interception.
This made the Bearcats offense completely one-dimensional.
Cincinnati was able to find some room to maneuver on the ground, as it piled up 168 yards on 36 carries; however, that's about as good as things were able to get.
The Bearcats were able to out gain the Tar Heels in total yardage, as they accumulated 349 total yards against the 345 of North Carolina. Ultimately, the difference in this game was special teams play, which led to fantastic field position for the Tar Heels.
Romar Morris got things going for North Carolina, as he punched in a two-yard touchdown run with 5:40 remaining in the first quarter. Soon after, Kareem Martin was able to bring Kay down in the end zone for a sack, putting the Tar Heels up 9-0.
Then, the North Carolina special teams took over.
First, T.J. Logan took a kick return 78 yards to to house, giving the Tar Heels a 16-0 lead. Later, following a Cincinnati field goal and a Jack Tabb three-yard touchdown reception, it was Ryan Switzer who returned a punt 86 yards for a score.
At this point, North Carolina found itself up by a score of 29-3 and didn't look back.
Throughout the remainder of the second half, the teams traded scores. Ralph Abernathy had a nice 15-yard touchdown scamper for the Bearcats; however, shortly after, Morris punched in his second short-yardage touchdown run on the day.
Shaq Washington was able to convert a 10-yard run into a touchdown for Cincinnati, and his score was followed up by a Thomas Moore 40-yard field goal, which was the final score of the game.
It was a big win for the Tar Heels, as their special teams units were able to become the difference-makers in this contest.
Marquise Williams, QB, North Carolina
Williams was able to remain efficient enough to utilize short fields and keep the Tar Heels in front throughout Saturday's contest. He completed 19 of his 33 passing attempts for 171 yards, one touchdown and zero interceptions. Williams also rushed nine times for an additional 46 yards.
He may have not put up extremely gaudy numbers, but due to a balanced offense and stellar special teams play, his effort was more than enough to secure a victory.
Brendon Kay, QB, Cincinnati
Kay had a rough go on Saturday. He was under plenty of duress throughout the game and was not able to get any rhythm going. He completed 15 of 35 attempts for 181 yards and an interception over the game. He was also brought down for a safety.
Kay needed to be on point to get Cincinnati back in the game after North Carolina jumped out to a huge lead. Unfortunately, he was unable to do so, and the Bearcats suffered a loss as a result.
Ryan Switzer, WR, North Carolina
Switzer was easily the player of the game. His electrifying 86-yard punt return for a touchdown sealed the Bearcats' fate. Not only was he effective on special teams, but he contributed in the passing game as well.
Switzer was able to record three receptions for 22 yards and also rushed one time for eight yards. He has a bright future ahead of him.
T.J. Logan, RB, North Carolina
Speaking of dynamic players, running back T.J. Logan saw the brunt of the workload on Saturday and delivered. Logan rushed 15 times for 77 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry. He also created excitement on special teams by returning a kickoff 78 yards for a touchdown early in the game.
Logan was a huge reason why the Tar Heels were so effective on the ground on Saturday, as the team was able to come away with 174 rushing yards on the game.
Ralph Abernathy, RB, Cincinnati
Abernathy was the workhorse on the ground for Cincinnati on Saturday. He carried 13 times for 67 yards and one touchdown on the day. This was impressive in its own right due to the Bearcats' lackluster passing game.
Abernathy was able to help out as a receiver as well, recording three receptions for 23 yards. This running back showed a great ability to gain tough yards and may have been poised for a big day if the score remained closer early on.