Recap: Notre Dame vs. North Carolina
South Bend, IN (SportsNetwork.com) - Everett Golson turned the ball over three times, but No. 6 Notre Dame pulled away to beat North Carolina 50-43 Saturday with the help of an uncommon penalty.
All three of Golson's turnovers led to North Carolina touchdowns, including a fumble three plays into the game that set up Elijah Hood's 6-yard touchdown run and an interception that linebacker Jeff Schoettmer returned 29 yards for a score to make it 14-0 in the first quarter.
Golson fumbled again late in the third and North Carolina quarterback Marquise Williams caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from wide receiver Quinshad Davis on the next play to give the Tar Heels a 36-35 lead.
The Irish responded with a 15-play drive for the go-ahead score -- much of it coming after the Tar Heels were whistled for a roughing the snapper penalty on a punt from the Notre Dame 32 on 4th-and-18.
Golson found Tarean Folston for a 9-yard touchdown and Ben Koyack caught the two-point conversion to give the Irish a 43-36 lead with 10:39 remaining.
Williams was then picked off by Irish cornerback Cole Luke after he tried to flip a pass to Bug Howard near the sideline while under pressure, and Folston scored his third touchdown on a 6-yard run with 2:19 remaining to put the game out of reach.
The last two Irish (6-0) scoring drives included pass interference penalties on North Carolina in the end zone.
Williams threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to Mack Hollins with 47 seconds left but the Tar Heels (2-4) couldn't recover an onside kick and lost their fourth game in a row.
"Lots of points, lots of penalties, lots of turnovers, lots of things to correct, but lots of resolve on Notre Dame's part," Irish head coach Brian Kelly said.
Golson passed for 300 yards and three touchdowns, including two to William Fuller, and the Irish avoided an upset one week before taking on No. 1 Florida State in their biggest game of the season so far.
Folson ran for 98 yards and two touchdowns and had five catches for 71 yards and another score. Fuller caught seven passes for a game-high 133 yards.
Williams threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns and racked up 132 yards on the ground with another score in addition to his touchdown catch. He had the Tar Heels on the brink of their first-ever win in 12 visits to Notre Dame after consecutive losses to East Carolina, Clemson and Virginia Tech.
"They came here believing they were going to win a football game, and they came up short," North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora said of his team.
Golson finally put it together on the Irish's fourth possession, with the star quarterback completing three passes for 73 yards and running for another 15.
His 13-yard pass to Fuller got them on the board and Cam McDaniel's 1-yard touchdown tied the score at 14 with seconds left in the first quarter.
After Greg Bryant's 7-yard touchdown for the Irish early in the second, Notre Dame was penalized twice for pass interference in the end zone on a long North Carolina drive and Williams scored on a 3-yard run, but the extra point was blocked by Jarron Jones.
The Irish took a 28-20 lead after North Carolina fumbled a punt deep inside Irish territory. Folston carried it in one play later from the 6-yard line, but the Tar Heels pulled within two points going into halftime after Davis' 20-yard touchdown catch 1:20 left before the break.
Fuller's 35-yard touchdown catch made it 35-26 Notre Dame less than three minutes into the third quarter. Nick Weiler's 19-yard field goal cut that to six points for North Carolina.Game Notes
Hollins had six receptions for 84 yards ... Including its 12-0 record at home,
Notre Dame is 17-2 all-time against the Tar Heels, who had won the previous
meeting 29-24 in Chapel Hill in 2008.