North Carolina upsets No. 12 Miami 33-24Nov 15, 2009 - 2:13 AM By AARON BEARD AP Sports Writer
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.(AP) -- Kendric Burney had just grabbed his third interception and returned it across midfield when he saw roommate Melvin Williams to his right near the sideline. Suddenly, the ball came loose and ended up with Williams, who sprinted the final 44 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown for North Carolina.
Was it a fumble? An illegal forward pitch?
"It was definitely a fumble," Burney said with a laugh, "but I just pitched it to him."
Either way, the replay-reviewed score stood and helped the Tar Heels beat No. 12 Miami 33-24 on Saturday, keeping coach Butch Davis unbeaten against his former program and making North Carolina bowl eligible for the second straight season.
Burney returned an interception 77 yards for a score late in the first half for a 20-7 halftime lead, and the disputed score following his third pick gave North Carolina (7-3, 3-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) a 30-17 lead with 9 1/2 minutes left. That was enough margin for the Tar Heels, who sealed it when Casey Barth kicked his fourth field goal with 1:57 left.
The Tar Heels have won three straight overall and five straight against ranked opponents dating to last season. They've also won all three meetings against the Hurricanes (7-3, 4-3) since Davis took over in 2007.
Burney finished with 170 interception return yards - a single-game ACC record and a school record for an entire season - and became the first Tar Heel to have three picks in a game since Dre' Bly in 1996.
But afterward, all anybody wanted to talk about was the Burney-to-Williams return, which began when Burney made the interception at his own 10 and returned it 45 yards. Replays appeared to show the ball slipping from Burney's hand and officials upheld it as a fumble, not a forward pitch.
Williams said Burney had teasingly said after an earlier interception that he planned to pitch it to him next time, adding that Burney "meant to do it, no matter what."
"I just froze to be honest with you," Williams said. "I was like, 'OK, let me go ahead and get out of bounds,' and then everybody was like, 'Run!' That's when I started running and my eyes got big for the end zone."
North Carolina quarterback T.J. Yates saw the replay on the scoreboard and could only shrug.
"I didn't know whether it was a lateral or it just slipped out of his hands," he said, "but I'm glad the referees made the right call."
Miami coach Randy Shannon had another take on it.
"To me, it looked like he pitched it forward, but I can't get involved in it," Shannon said. "One play shouldn't make the difference in the game, but it happened, so we've got to accept what it is and move on."
The Hurricanes moved the ball effectively against the nation's fifth-ranked total defense, racking up 435 yards and getting rushing scores from Graig Cooper and Damien Berry. They even answered Williams' TD return with a quick touchdown drive of their own to stay in the game.
But the Tar Heels pressured Jacory Harris into a career-high four interceptions, with all three of Burney's coming deep in North Carolina territory.
"I really can't explain it," Harris said. "I went out there and made some bad throws. All mental mistakes. I just put my team in the worst-case scenario and North Carolina took advantage of it."
The loss came a short time after the Hurricanes saw their outside chance of winning the ACC Coastal Division title disappear with No. 7 Georgia Tech's rout of Duke in nearby Durham, sending the Yellow Jackets to next month's ACC championship game.
As for the Tar Heels, it ended up being an opportunity for redemption.
Three weeks ago, North Carolina led Florida State 24-6 in the third quarter before its defense faltered and its offense did little to help down the stretch in a 30-27 loss. On Saturday, North Carolina led 23-7 in the third, and held on when its offense put together an 11-play, 60-yard drive that took more than 5 minutes off the clock and set up Barth's final field goal - the kind of drive it couldn't manage against the Seminoles.
Ryan Houston ran for 76 yards for the Tar Heels, including 33 on that final drive.
- NCAAF FINAL
1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
MIAMIFL 0 7 10 7 24
UNC 0 20 3 10 33 FINAL
2ND QUARTER: NORTH CARO - TD, GREG LITTLE 29 YD PASS FROM
T.J. YATES (CASEY BARTH
KICK), 0:48. UNC 7-0
MIAMI FL - TD, DAMIEN BERRY 1 YD RUN (MATT
BOSHER KICK), 3:16. MIAMIFL
NORTH CARO - FG, CASEY
Nov 14 7:00 PM
UNC 33 0:00 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Nov 14 7:00 PM
UNC 33 1:57 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Miami(12) 24, North Carolina 33 4th - 1:57Nov 14 6:53 PM
UNC 30 7:21 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Miami(12) 24, North Carolina 30 4th - 7:21Nov 14 6:39 PM
UNC 30 9:28 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Miami(12) 17, North Carolina 30 4th - 9:28Nov 14 6:33 PM
UNC 23 0:00 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Nov 14 6:07 PM
UNC 23 1:18 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Miami(12) 17, North Carolina 23 3rd - 1:18Nov 14 6:04 PM
UNC 23 5:19 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Miami(12) 10, North Carolina 23 3rd - 5:19Nov 14 5:49 PM
UNC 23 8:47 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Miami(12) 7, North Carolina 23 3rd - 8:47Nov 14 5:39 PM
UNC 20 0:00 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Nov 14 5:03 PM
UNC 20 0:56 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Miami(12) 7, North Carolina 20 2nd - 0:56Nov 14 4:58 PM
UNC 19 0:56 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Miami(12) 7, North Carolina 19 2nd - 0:56Nov 14 4:58 PM
UNC 13 4:05 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Miami(12) 7, North Carolina 13 2nd - 4:05Nov 14 4:46 PM
UNC 10 8:21 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Miami(12) 7, North Carolina 10 2nd - 8:21Nov 14 4:36 PM
UNC 7 11:44 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Miami(12) 7, North Carolina 7 2nd - 11:44Nov 14 4:26 PM
UNC 7 14:12 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Miami(12) 0, North Carolina 7 2nd - 14:12Nov 14 4:20 PM
UNC 0 0:00 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Nov 14 4:20 PM
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