After five consecutive losses, the streak is finally over.
With one thunderous punt return in the final 30 seconds of the game with N.C. State, Giovani Bernard broke the tie to give the North Carolina football team a 43-35 win.
“I was crying,” Bernard said. “As soon as the punt return happened I started crying on the way to the endzone. Walking into the locker room after, I saw guys crying. It was different from last year and the years before when guys were crying because of sadness. This year you could tell they were happy, tears of joy. It was just an amazing feeling.”
The Wolfpack (5-3, 2-2) was forced to punt the ball back to the Tar Heels with thirty seconds on the clock after the North Carolina defense forced a crucial three and out. UNC had tied the game at 35 on the previous possession with a 34-yard field goal from Casey Barth.
Bernard, who was dealing with an injury to his right ankle, waived off the back-up returner Roy Smith and took it himself. He caught the punt on the 26-yard-line and made his move towards the N.C. State sideline.
“To my right, that’s where the players were supposed to go, I saw all dark blue jerseys so I knew I had a wall coming back at me,” Bernard said. “I saw one of my guys and I just started yelling, ‘Go, go, go, go, go.’ He was able to block the punter and I was able to outrun the last guy. I still can’t believe it, I’m still shaking right now. After that I started crying, I couldn’t hold my emotions back.”
North Carolina jumped out early on the Wolfpack and held a 15-0 lead in the first quarter after a couple of trick plays opened up the field for the Tar Heels. The second UNC touchdown was a 45-yard run from Erik Highsmith on a reverse play.
Bernard had two rushing touchdowns in the first quarter as well and after the first 15 minutes, UNC held a 25-14 lead. But the Wolfpack was already putting together its charge.
N.C. State’s defense kept the Tar Heels scoreless throughout both the second and third quarters and allowed their quarterback Mike Glennon to string together four unanswered touchdowns. On the day Glennon threw for 467 yards on 29 completions in 52 attempts.