RALEIGH — North Carolina’s players celebrated at midfield on their rival’s logo while a couple even doused coach Larry Fedora with a cooler of ice water.
It was a moment to savor for the Tar Heels, who ended a road skid at North Carolina State and proved they’re determined to fight back from a 1-5 start.
Freshman T.J. Logan ran for a 14-yard touchdown with 11:19 left to help the Tar Heels beat the rival Wolfpack 27-19 on Saturday, UNC’s first win at Carter-Finley Stadium since 2005.
Quinshad Davis had two touchdown catches for the Tar Heels (3-5, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had lost five straight in the series before last year’s wild home win on Gio Bernard’s 74-yard TD punt return with 13 seconds left.
Now they’ve won two straight in the 103-game rivalry for the first time since 2005-06.
“Believe me, this team and this university and all of our fans take a lot of pride in that — tremendous amount of pride,” Fedora said. “As far as I know, it’s always been the Tar Heel state and always will be.”
The Tar Heels have won two straight to restore some hope to their season, which started with ACC Coastal Division title hopes but is now a race to bowl eligibility. To beat the Wolfpack (3-5, 0-5), they had to overcome an early 10-0 deficit, injuries to quarterbacks Bryn Renner and Marquise Williams, and eight penalties.
When this one ended, the Tar Heels were all too eager to turn the Wolfpack’s “This is our state” slogan around with that midfield celebration that nearly led to an altercation between the teams.
Two years ago, the Wolfpack knocked Renner out of the game and held the Tar Heels to 165 total yards in a 13-0 win here. Tight end Eric Ebron — whose dismissive tweets about the Wolfpack added some game-week spice — said his team was “relentless” and wouldn’t let this game get away.
“If we don’t have your respect already, we’re going to keep on taking it until the point where you have no choice but to respect us,” Ebron said of the postgame celebration. “I mean, this is our state. Our win ratio to their losses, I mean, we’re killing them. You’ve just got to let them know whose state this really is.”
The celebration irked first-year Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren.
“I’m going to keep working,” Doeren said. “I’m going to remember what they did on the 50-yard line after the game — when their guys came out and started jumping up and down on our logo — for the next 364 days, and I’m going to look forward to playing them next year. That’s all I can do.”
Davis’ second score came off a 59-yard pass from Ryan Switzer on a trick play, putting UNC ahead for good midway through the second. After Logan’s first college score gave the Tar Heels a cushion, A.J. Blue ran for a key first down with about 21/2 minutes left to help UNC drain the clock.
Brandon Mitchell ran for 105 yards and a touchdown to become the first Wolfpack quarterback to crack the 100-yard mark in 37 years, but he completed just 10 of 22 passes for 130 yards and two interceptions before Doeren turned to backup Pete Thomas for the Wolfpack’s last best drive.
“I was costing my team a victory,” said Mitchell, who returned last week from a five-game absence due to a broken left foot. “I had two turnovers in key situations when we had a chance to do take the lead. I would have pulled myself, too.”
Thomas got the Wolfpack to midfield before his fourth-down pass for Rashard Smith fell incomplete with 2:42 left. The Wolfpack didn’t get the ball again until there were just 13 seconds left, and Mitchell’s final heave was caught well short of the end zone for the final play.
N.C. State’s Shadrach Thornton ran for 90 yards in his second straight strong performance, while Niklas Sade kicked four field goals — though two came on drives that stalled inside the 10.
The Wolfpack led 16-14 before the Switzer-to-Davis TD throw with 9:43 left in the second.
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