The Tar Heels entered a rainy Kenan Stadium on Saturday afternoon looking to keep their hopes of playing in their first bowl game since 2016 alive. They had no trouble doing just that, as they scored 42 points in the first half in route to a 56-7 Senior Day beat down of the Mercer Bears. Let’s see who landed on this week’s stock report as the page turns towards the rivalry matchup with NC State.
⇧ Sam Howell
Howell entered Saturday’s game with 29 passing touchdowns on the season and a chance to break two different single season records if he could find the endzone twice through the air. Howell would do one better, throwing three on the day, including the record breaker in the second quarter to Jake Bargas. His 32 passing touchdowns so far this season are the most in a single season in program history and the most by a true freshman in a season in NCAA history. Howell finished the day 10-13 for 152 yards, averaging more than 10.0 yards per completion for the sixth straight game.
⇧ Michael Carter
With Javonte Williams limited again as the staff tries to get him fully healthy for next week, Carter got the start and had one of the best days of his career. Carter carried the ball just nine times, but ran for 159 yards and three touchdowns, his first rushing touchdowns since last year’s game against Duke. Carter is now just 178 yards away from the first 1,000 yard season of his career.
⇧ Chazz Surratt
Surratt needed only five total tackles on Saturday to reach the 100 tackle mark for the season and he did just that before exiting in the second quarter with the team up big. Surratt had another nice performance, flying around the field to make his five total tackles and also recover a fumble on Mercer’s first offensive play of the game. It was good to see Surratt get back on track after a rough outing against Pittsburgh and gain some positive momentum for himself heading into the biggest game of the season.
⇧ Josh Henderson
The true freshman played his first offensive snaps of the season and shined with a big second half. Henderson carried the ball 13 times for 98 yards, ripping off a couple of long carries and running with an edge that fans were encouraged by. With Antonio Williams graduating at season’s end, Henderson has a real shot to take over that No. 3 running back role next year.
⇧ Eugene Asante
Asante replaced Surratt midway through the second quarter and came back to lead the team in tackles. Asante finished Saturday's game with eight total tackles and looked like the type of linebacker that we thought he could be sideline-to-sideline when he signed back in February. Expect Asante to be a big part of this defense over the next couple of seasons.
⇧ Raymond Vohasek
Vohasek has seen his role expand over the past few games, but didn’t get the start against Mercer on Saturday. He responded with his best performance of the season, tallying five total tackles, including 2.0 tackles for a loss and 1.0 sack. Vohasek showed some signs that he can help fill the role that Jason Strowbridge will leave behind when he graduates at season's end.
⇧ Khadry Jackson
Jackson took over for Jeremiah Gemmel after halftime and looked good in the first defensive snaps of his career. He finished the game with six total tackles, including 0.5 tackles for a loss. Like Asante, Jackson was everywhere on the field on Saturday and has Tar Heel fans feeling hopeful for the future of the linebacker position.
⇧ Antonio Williams
Williams played his final game in Kenan Stadium on Saturday afternoon and continued what has been a strong finish to his senior season. Williams ran for 65 yards on nine carries and found the end zone to open the scoring. Williams continues to play well and his performance was enough to put his season total over the 300 yard mark, giving the Tar Heel three running backs with 300 or more rushing yards heading into the final game of the season.
⇧ Emery Simmons
Simmons has seen some depth snaps at wide receiver this season, but took another step in his development on Saturday. Simmons caught his only target for his first career touchdown in the second quarter on a 33-yard deep ball from roommate Sam Howell. With the four proven options ahead of him, Simmons hasn’t seen a ton of action this season, but when he has, he’s made the most of it.
⇧ Bowl Chances
The key heading in this game for the Tar Heels was to win and build momentum for next Saturday’s game in Raleigh and they did just that. The Wolfpack’s loss to lowly Georgia Tech last Thursday means they will not be fighting for their own bowl eligibility on Saturday, just the chance to prevent the Tar Heels from playing December football. Right now, the Tar Heels are 7.5 point favorite in Vegas and 72.6% favorite according to the ESPN FPI to go bowling for the first time since 2016.