SPARTANBURG — North Carolina scored the first four times it had the ball and went on to a 55-24 victory in the 81st Shrine Bowl of the Carolinas Saturday at Gibbs Stadium.
Quarterback Holton Ahlers, an East Carolina commit, threw for a touchdown and ran for a touchdown on the Tar Heels' first two drives.
The Sandlappers kept pace with a couple of South Carolina recruits scoring: Fort Dorchester quarterback Dakereon Joyner on a 5-yard run and Dutch Fork wide receiver Bryce Thompson on a 40-yard pass from Oceanside Academy's Samuel Hartman, a Wake Forest commit.
Thompson had 150 yards receiving on five catches with the one touchdown - all in the first half. He was named the most outstanding player for the Sandlappers.
Leading 14-12 because of a pair of missed South Carolina conversions, North Carolina took control with the help of special teams and defense.
Dyami Brown returned a kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown to make it 21-12.
Then Miles Simon picked off a pass and returned it to the South Carolina 1-yard line, leading to Stephon Brown's 1-yard touchdown run, giving North Carolina a 28-12 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter.
The Tar Heels scored on the second play of the third quarter on a 52-yard run by Ricky Person Jr., stretching the lead to 35-12.
South Carolina closed the gap on Hartman's 52-yard pass to South Pointe's Derion Kendrick, a Clemson commit, and pulled to within 35-24 on a 36-yard interception return for a score by T.L. Hanna's Braylan Peterson.
The Sandlappers missed their first four conversion attempts: two missed kicks, a blocked kick and a pass that came up short.
Bob Costello, The Greenville News