Winston-Salem, NC - With 6:36 remaining in regulation Wake Forest's (2-0, 1-0 ACC) offense had 93 yards of green real estate and a daunting North Carolina (1-1, 0-1 ACC) defense staring it in the face, but 11 plays and 4:27 later Tanner Price plunged into the end-zone for a one-yard touchdown Jimmy Newman followed with the game-winning extra point that propelled the Demon Deacons to a 28-27 victory.
"This is as good as it gets, especially after last week I think our players were challenged a little bit, our team was," Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said. "I think we were probably trying to have Tanner sit too long in the pocket for a while. I think when we got away from that and started getting off some quicker throws I think that helped him."
"We just had a bunch of guys step up and make plays in that drive and I couldn't be more proud of them. They kind of let us down a little bit in the third quarter; offensively we just didn't get much done and our defense had to keep going back out. I was really worried that our defense was going to gas out. The best thing we did defensively in the second half [was] we held them to two field goals. That's huge making them kick the field goals, and I just had a sense when we took that last drive it was going to be four downs. We weren't going to give the ball back to them unless they took it from us. I really thought when it counted Tanner stepped up and our young offensive line guys stepped up a little bit and protected a little bit better."
Price completed 27-38 passes for a career-high 327 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. Michael Campanaro added a career-high in receptions, breaking his previous record of 10 set last week against Liberty with 13 versus the Tar Heels for a career-high 164 yards.
"I didn't see too much pressure on the quarterback the whole night," North Carolina head coach Larry Fedora said. "I didn't see anybody close to any receivers. Tonight we made him [Campanaro] look like an All-American. He might be."
UNC was without its All-ACC running back Giovani Bernard, but that did not appear to be an issue for the "Fed Spread" when A.J. Blue[/db] scored on a one-yard touchdown and Casey Barth an extra point to put the Heels on top 14-7 with 10:05 left in the second quarter.
However, things quickly turned south for the Tar Heels when the Deacs turned to trickery, a 35-yard halfback pass from DeAndre Martin to Brandon Terry down to UNC's 15-yard-line. The possession culminated with a four-yard touchdown run from Martin and a game-tying extra point from Newman.
Defensive end Hasan Hazime, a transfer from Akron, rose to hero status on the ensuing drive when all-in-one he sacked Bryn Renner, forced him to fumble and recovered the ball at the UNC 20. Josh Harris scored three plays later when he scampered left six yards for a touchdown.
Wake Forest suffered significant setbacks in the second half when Nikita Whitlock sprained his right ankle and was forced to leave the game for good after re-injuring it early in the early third quarter, and when the Tar Heels scored 13 unanswered points to take a 27-21 advantage.
"We praised each other throughout the whole game, just staying positive, and knowing we were going to face adversity and just being fighters at the end and just keep your poise," Wake Forest cornerback Merrill Noel said.