Gio Bernard returned a punt 74 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 13 seconds left, helping North Carolina stun Atlantic Coast Conference rival North Carolina State, 43-35, at Chapel Hill to end a five-year losing streak in the series.
Bernard’s punt return capped a huge day for the sophomore tailback, who ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns. He also had eight catches for 95 yards to lead the Tar Heels (6-3, 3-2), who trailed, 35-25, entering the final period in a back-and-forth game that lived up to the rivalry hype.
‘‘I still can’t believe it,’’ Bernard said of the return. ‘‘I'm still shaking right now.’’
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.
Mike Glennon threw for a career-high 467 yards and five touchdowns to lead N.C. State, which took a 35-25 lead on Glennon’s 55-yard pass to Bryan Underwood with 39 seconds left in the third quarter.
N.C. State entered the afternoon with two straight wins — including an upset of then-No. 3 Florida State Oct. 6 — that had put the Wolfpack in control of its own destiny in the 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.
‘‘This wasn’t just a regular win,’’ senior defensive tackle Sylvester Williams said. ‘‘This wasn’t us going out and playing against any other school. This was a team we wanted to beat and we've been harping on beating all year.’’
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 off a wild celebration in Kenan Stadium’s blue-filled end zone.
Florida State 48, Duke 7 — EJ Manuel tossed two touchdown passes and Devonta Freeman ran for two scores to lead the No. 11 Seminoles (8-1, 5-1) to a lopsided win over the Blue Devils (6-3, 3-2) in Tallahassee, Fla.
Florida State’s win coupled with North Carolina State’s loss to North Carolina puts the Seminoles back in control of the Atlantic Division while Duke dropped out of the undisputed lead in the league’s muddled Coastal Division.
Tyler Hunter returned a punt 75 yards for a score and Dustin Hopkins kicked a career-best 56-yard field goal to help the Seminoles offset losing four fumbles.
BYU 41, Georgia Tech 17 — Jamaal Williams scored four touchdowns, quarterback Riley Nelson accounted for two TDs, and the visiting Cougars (5-4) beat the Yellow Jackets (3-5) to snap a two-game losing streak.