Quan Sturdivant returned a fumble 49 yards for a touchdown, Bruce Carter brought back an interception 41 yards for another score and the Tar Heels forced six turnovers Saturday during a 42-12 rout of Georgia Southern.
The defense also set up two quick scoring drives with takeaways for North Carolina (4-2).
"It's so much easier when you get the ball at the 20-yard line, the 10-yard line," quarterback T.J. Yates said. "That just gives you so much confidence as an offense. You've got time. You can take your time, go through things and work out different stuff."
Ryan Houston scored on rushes of 1, 1 and 7 yards in his first three-touchdown game and Shaun Draughn added a 16-yard TD run for the Tar Heels.
"We've got to change speeds," Houston said, adding that he and Draughn "are two different kind of backs. ... We just switch them up, keep them off balance."
Adam Urbano had a 45-yard TD rush -- the longest allowed this season by North Carolina's stingy defense -- for the Eagles (3-3). They finished with just 170 total yards and 75 through the air.
"To come out and just start turning the ball over, against any team, especially an ACC team, you just can't do that," Georgia Southern quarterback Lee Chapple said.
The Tar Heels' defense, which entered with national rankings of No. 8 overall and No. 4 against the pass, spoke openly about feeling the need to give their struggling offense a jolt. Defensive end Robert Quinn promised to "put it on our shoulders."
Then, they did. Quinn jarred the ball loose from Chapple as he passed late in the first quarter. E.J. Wilson returned it to the 16 and Draughn scored on the next play to make it 14-0.
Sturdivant pushed the lead to 21-7 midway through the second when he ripped the ball out of Urbano's hands and returned it down the right sideline for his second career score.
"That was just a backbreaker for us," Georgia Southern coach Chris Hatcher said.
Zach Brown's pick moments later gave the Tar Heels the ball at the 22 and three plays later, Houston barreled in from 7 yards out. Carter snuffed out the Eagles' next possession with an interception return for a TD.
"That's what we've been trying to do every week," Sturdivant said.