|North Carolina QB Bryn Renner threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns in Thursday's 37-13 win at Virginia. (US Presswire)|
With 56 seconds to go in the third quarter, the Cavaliers (4-7, 2-5 ACC) lined up for a 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard line, trailing North Carolina (7-4, 4-3 ACC) 20-13. Virginia QB Michael Rocco turned and handed the ball to RB Kevin Parks, who was swallowed in the backfield by North Carolina DE Kareem Martin and LB Kevin Reddick.
“They brag about how big their offensive line is, but we have great defensive linemen and linebackers,” North Carolina DT Sylvester Williams said. “We told ourselves that we was going to man up and put our neck in the hole for our team. That's what we did, and we stopped them.”
The stop was one that had to feel good for a defense that gave up 68 points and nine of 15 third down conversions to Georgia Tech. Thursday night, Virginia managed to convert just two of its 15 third downs against the Tar Heels.
The Tar Heels proceeded to drive 97 yards on 12 plays after the goal-line stand, which was capped by a 23-yard touchdown pass by QB Bryn Renner to RB Giovani Bernard. After that fourth-down stop, North Carolina scored 17 points in the next 8:49 to put the game away.
The Tar Heels also had four sacks, and CB Tre Boston returned an interception for a touchdown in the second quarter.
“I think our defense played exceptional,” North Carolina coach Larry Fedora said. “They were hurt by what happened last week, and they've got a lot of pride.”
Renner was fantastic on a night where his production was definitely needed. Bernard was bottled up for the majority of the night with just 104 all-purpose yards. Renner finished 29 of 36 for 315 yards and three touchdowns. He has hit his stride lately, throwing for over 300 yards in three straight games.
“The bad thing about it is we only have one game left,” Fedora said, alluding to his program's postseason ban. “He's probably as confident as he's been with the offense in the last three weeks. He feels very comfortable, and we're just running out of time.”
North Carolina freshman WR Quinshad Davis had 16 catches for 178 yards. The 16 receptions tied a single-game ACC record with five other players, and he now has 52 receptions for the year, breaking Bernard's school freshman record of 45 receptions from a season ago.
This was the second year in a row the Cavaliers have had their senior day ruined. Virginia lost 38-0 last year to Virginia Tech with the Coastal Division on the line. This year's loss means the Cavaliers will not make it to a bowl game for the fourth time in the last five years.
Virginia closes out its season at Virginia Tech next Saturday. The Cavaliers have not beaten the Hokies since 2003.
"You've got to make it your bowl game," Virginia coach Mike London said. "That's what it is, one last game to play. I know the players will be up to the challenge. It's a very quiet locker room in there with a lot of disappointments. We've got to pick ourselves up and get ready to play one last football game.”
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from ACC bloggers Shawn Krest and Sean Bielawski, follow @CBSSportsACC.