ACC Football: Pack wasn't clutch at the end

  • Posted: Wednesday, November 28, 2012 7:41 p.m.

Associated Press
CHAPEL HILL - Mike Glennon spent most of Saturday picking apart North Carolina's secondary on the way to the best passing day of his career. And yet, the quarterback couldn't keep North Carolina State's five-year winning streak alive against its biggest rival. Glennon threw for a career-high 467 yards and five touchdowns in the Wolfpack's 43-35 loss to the Tar Heels. "Really, a quarterback is more judged on wins and losses," the graduate student said. "I had great stats, but really it comes down to winning the game. Unfortunately that wasn't the case. I don't have anything else to say about that." Glennon had plenty of time to throw for most of the day, finishing 29-for-52 with two interceptions. He had already surpassed his previous career-high of 440 yards by the end of the third quarter, which helped N.C. State take a 10-point lead. But Glennon completed only an 8-yard pass in the fourth quarter and missed on his last six throws, while his receivers dropped a half-dozen balls on the afternoon to undermine what could have been an even bigger performance. "This game is big for the area, and we know that," Glennon said. "It's important for the university. You don't want to be the class to end that streak, and unfortunately it happened to be my senior year. But we can't really dwell on this. We've got to move on." For North Carolina, Gio Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 13 seconds left to capped a huge day for the sophomore tailback. Bernard ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns and had eight catches for 95 yards to lead the Tar Heels (6-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference), who trailed 35-25 entering the final period in a back-and-forth game that lived up to the rivalry hype. North Carolina hadn't beaten the Wolfpack (5-3, 2-2) since Tom O'Brien took over in Raleigh in 2007, but finally halted that skid under first-year coach Larry Fedora. N.C. State entered the afternoon with two straight wins - including an upset of then-No. 3 Florida State on Oct. 6 - that had put the Wolfpack in control of its own destiny in the ACC's Atlantic Division. Instead, the Tar Heels, who are banned from a bowl for NCAA violations, knocked their rivals back in the league race with a stunning finish after blowing their own big lead. After leading 25-7 late in the first quarter, the Tar Heels tied the game at 35 on Casey Barth's 34-yard field goal with 1:24 left, then forced the Wolfpack to punt with about 30 seconds left. Bernard - who had injured his right ankle on a catch early in the second half - fielded the punt inside his own 30, then started running to his right where his blockers had set up a wall. Bernard broke free down the right sideline in front of the Wolfpack bench, scampering into the end zone to set up off a wild celebration in Kenan Stadium's blue-filled end zone. UNC punter Tommy Hibbard then managed to complete his second two-point conversion pass of the day to Jack Tabb to push the lead to 43-35. And when Tobais Palmer fumbled the ensuing kickoff, the Tar Heels were finally in position to celebrate. Bryn Renner took a knee to end it, and the UNC players soon started jumping into the front row of the student section near the tunnel to celebrate before heading into the locker room. Renner threw for 358 yards and a touchdown, while Erik Highsmith also ran for a touchdown on a 45-yard reverse on UNC's second possession. Bryan Underwood had six catches for 118 yards and two touchdowns for the Wolfpack, who held the Tar Heels scoreless from late in the first quarter until Renner's 3-yard scoring toss to Sean Tapley made it 35-32 with 10:23 left in the game.

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