|Larry Fedora helped North Carolina deliver a knockout punch to the rival Wolfpack. (US Presswire)|
ACC Coach of the Week: Larry Fedora, North Carolina
Rivalry games come down to a few key plays and a handful of coaching decisions.
Saturday, the Tar Heels took their white helmets and a five-game losing streak to NC State onto the field for pregame warmups.
When they returned to the locker room, coach Larry Fedora had a surprise for them.
Shiny new chrome helmets (watch video above) had been placed at each player's locker.
It was the first time the team had seen the new headgear. Fedora had instructed the equipment staff to keep the helmets under wraps until right before gametime.
Fired up by their new hats, and spurred on by three trick plays that worked to perfection, Carolina jumped out to a 15-0 lead in the first four minutes of the game.
A variation of a flea-flicker gained 41 yards and set up a Giovani Bernard touchdown run on the Tar Heels' first possession. The Heels found the end zone on a 45-yard reverse the second time they had the ball, and they added a surprise two-point conversion for good measure.
The Tar Heels would need every one of those early points. NC State battled back and took the lead in the fourth quarter. That's when Fedora reached into his bag of tricks again.
With Bernard hobbled by an ankle injury, Roy Smith went onto the field to return a punt with 30 seconds left in a tie game. At the last second, he was called back to the sidelines and Bernard took his place.
The rest will go down in Carolina-State history.
“I knew he was going out before I called the return,” Fedora said after Bernard took the punt back for a game-winning touchdown.
Bernard has two touchdowns on punt returns this year, and the Tar Heels have gained an ACC-leading 482 yards returning punts this season. They've also blocked a pair.
The Carolina coach in charge of the punt return team? None other than Larry Fedora himself.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from ACC bloggers Shawn Krest and Sean Bielawski, follow @CBSSportsACC.