CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – When it mattered most, when Miami needed one defensive stand to force overtime, the Hurricanes simply couldn’t do it.
That fact, perhaps as much as a loss that might have taken them out of the national title race, clearly irked coach Larry Coker.
“It’s mind boggling,” he said.
Connor Barth booted a 42-yard field goal on the final play of the game, giving North Carolina a shocking 31-28 upset of the fourth-ranked Hurricanes on Saturday.
Miami was one of seven unbeaten teams at the start of the day.
“We never even talked about a national championship,” Coker said. “What we did talk about is beating North Carolina. That didn’t happen.”
When Miami called a timeout just before the kick, fans began lining the hedges just outside the sidelines in preparation for the celebration. The ball flew just inside the left upright, and soon the field was covered with people, celebrating North Carolina’s first win over a top five opponent. Both goal posts went down.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Barth said. “I’ve never made a game-winner like that. That was the first one ever, and what a game to do it in.”
Darian Durant led the Tar Heels (4-4, 3-2 ACC) on a 65-yard drive for the winning points, completing all four passes and getting the final 5 yards on a keeper up the middle. He finished 21 for 29 for 266 yards and two TDs, and Chad Scott overcame an injured hip to rush for a career-high 175 yards.
“It just goes to show that anybody can be beaten on any given day, especially in this conference,” Durant said.
Miami’s Brock Berlin was 20 for 35 for 338 yards and two touchdowns, but Miami had only 77 yards rushing, the first time all season they’ve failed to reach 100.
“It was a very gratifying win and it was nice to see they did not get 100 yards rushing,” coach John Bunting said. “When is the last time that happened, 100 years ago or so?”