AUSTIN, Texas - Mack Brown was crying before Texas even took the field Saturday against his old North Carolina team.
In an emotional pregame ceremony, No. 4 Texas dedicated the game to former Longhorns junior defensive tackle Cole Pittman, who was killed in a February car crash.
So perhaps it was fitting when Texas (2-0) took a knee instead of kicking the extra point after its last touchdown in a 44-14 victory Saturday. Pittman wore No. 44 for Texas last season, and the Longhorns wanted to preserve the final score.
"I think it's a great tribute to the (Pittman) family," said Brown, who was visibly upset during the pregame ceremony. "I was thinking about how to move the ball better. The kids deserve credit for (thinking of) that. The players ... all came to me and said 'Take a knee."'
Any emotions were supposed to be centered about Brown playing against the program that he had built into a national power only to see it crumble after he left after the 1997 season.
It was the Longhorns who jumped out early on the emotional spark, bolting to 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
Defensive end Cory Redding, who used to play next to Pittman, returned an interception 22 yards for Texas' first touchdown and Nathan Vasher's long punt return set up a 1-yard sneak by Chris Simms for a quick 14-0 lead.
Redding picked off Ronald Curry's second pass of the game and streaked for the left corner of the end zone. Curry tried to cut him off at the 5, but the 6-foot-5, 260-pound Redding leaped high and somersaulted over Curry for the touchdown.
"I wasn't going to be denied. I didn't think I could jump that high," Redding said. "It was supposed to be a celebration day. This one and the rest of season is for Cole."
Curry, who had been pulled from North Carolina's first two games, settled down and capped a 77-yard drive with a 20-yard touchdown run to make it 14-7. Andre' Williams' 9-yard TD run tied it in the second quarter.
Dusty Mangum kicked a pair of second-quarter field goals, including a 49-yarder into a stiff wind for a 20-14 Texas lead at halftime.
"We jumped out to 14 points and then probably went to sleep for a while," Brown said. "I told the guys at halftime ... I thought that this team needed grow up and play better in the second half."
The Longhorns defense got the message. Texas clamped down on the Tar Heels in the third quarter, holding Carolina (0-3) to minus-5 yards in the period. Cedric Benson scored on a 7-yard run to make it 26-14.
"We knew it wasn't going to be easy offensively," said Simms, who completed 17 of 35 passes for 167 yards as the Longhorns managed just 326 total yards with an offense many expect to be dominate this season.
"We're going to score our points. It won't be as pretty as you guys would like it or I would like it, but we're going to keep nickel and diming them."