CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) North Carolina wanted to avoid late-game drama and that wasn’t a problem Saturday afternoon.
Drake Maye threw two of his four touchdown passes to Tez Walker, Omarion Hampton ran for two touchdowns and the Tar Heels shed a two-game losing streak by beating Campbell 59-7.
Hampton gained 144 rushing yards on 15 carries and North Carolina’s much-maligned defense shined at times.
The Tar Heels (7-2) needed a pick-me-up before returning to Atlantic Coast Conference play following four-point upset losses to Virginia and Georgia Tech, falling from a No. 10 national ranking all the way out of the poll.
“I thought it was a perfect time and perfect game for us,” North Carolina coach Mack Brown said.
Some North Carolina starters, including Maye, on offense were pulled by late in the third quarter. Maye ended 16-for-23 for 244 yards in the air.
Campbell (4-5), a member of the Football Championship Subdivision’s Coastal Athletic Association, had 287 yards of total offense. Quarterback Hajj-Malik Williams threw for 185 yards and ran for 51 yards.
North Carolina’s defense had been gashed in the Georgia Tech game. This might have gathered some mojo.
“I think it did,” Brown said. “They got their confidence back. Our defense played really well for three quarters.”
North Carolina scored first on Maye’s 10-yard pass to Walker, who was in action despite spending time in an Atlanta hospital following the Tar Heels’ loss a week earlier at Georgia Tech. They connected again on a 31-yard scoring play late in the first half.
“So happy that Tez could get back,” Brown said. “He’s a tough young man.”
The Camels produced a highlight by drawing even as Williams threw to Chaney Fitzgerald for a 19-yard touchdown on a third-and-goal play in the first quarter.
“This is a big opportunity for our kids,” Campbell coach Mike Minter said. “A lot of these kids are from North Carolina and probably wanted to come here. They watched the Tar Heels growing up and they got a chance to play in this stadium.”
Hampton ran 54 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 8:56 left in the second quarter. Hampton eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the season on that run.
“The offensive line did their thing all day,” Hampton said. “They opened up the holes and allowed me to reach 1,000 yards.”
Campbell then had a five-minute drive go for naught when Caleb Dowden missed wide left on a 33-yard field goal attempt.
After Walker’s second touchdown, the Tar Heels executed a hurry-up offense to score when Hampton plowed into the end zone from 4 yards out for his 12th rushing touchdown of the year.
Maye threw touchdown passes to John Copenhaver and J.J. Jones in the third quarter. Backup quarterback Conner Harrell ran and threw for touchdowns in the fourth.
By reaching 1,000 yards, Hampton became the fastest North Carolina player to do since Giovani Bernard needed just eight games in 2012. … Campbell, which had about a 40-mile trip, dropped to 0-3 vs. in-state opponents this season. … The Camels’ only other game all-time against an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent came with a 2020 loss at Wake Forest. They dropped to 0-11 against Football Bowl Subdivision foes.
North Carolina played its first game of the season without a national ranking Saturday. While defeating Campbell won’t likely be enough to climb back into the poll, other results could shuffle the rankings enough for the Tar Heels to land a Top 25 spot in Sunday’s next poll.
Campbell: The Camels put together a couple of promising first-half drives but committing four turnovers pretty much doomed any chance of an upset. They’ve given up more than 40 points in three of their losses.
North Carolina: The Tar Heels might have sorted out some issues, particularly on defense, and that was the main objective. North Carolina reached the 40-point mark for the sixth game this season.
Campbell: Saturday vs. CAA co-leader Delaware in the home finale
North Carolina: Saturday vs. Duke in the home finale.
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