Heel Tough Blog: Ranking the Best Games Against State

Updated: Jan 5


Saturday is the final game of the 2019 regular season and for the sixth straight year, the Tar Heels will close the season with the rivalry game against NC State. Over the years, this rivalry has produced a lot of bad blood that has begun to boil over, with two of the last three meetings seeing the sidelines clear at one point during the game. This rivalry has also produced some of the best moments in both programs’ histories over the years and one would think this year will be no different.

As we get prepared for this 2019 edition of this rivalry, now seems like the perfect time to look at the Tar Heels best wins over the Wolfpack. Here is the Heel Tough Blog’s ranking of the top games against NC State.



HM. November 28th, 2015- No. 11 North Carolina 45 NC State 34

Chapelboro.com


In the midst of one of the greatest seasons in Tar Heels football history, the Heels traveled to Raleigh for a nationally televised meeting with the Wolfpack. The Heels entered the game with one of the most lethal offenses in the country and wasted no time showing that offense off, scoring 35 points in the first quarter, easily the most ever scored in a single quarter by a team in this rivalry. Both Elijah Hood (21 rush, 220 yds, 2 TD) and T.J. Logan (6 rush, 100 yds, 2 TD) had huge games as the Heels ran for 374 yards and four touchdowns and held off a comeback attempt from the Wolfpack for their 11th straight win of the 2015 season.



HM. November 24, 1995- North Carolina 30 NC State 28

This was the first time in the rivalry’s history that the teams met to close a season. The Tar Heels entered the game looking for a third straight win in the series and needed the win to go bowling, similar to situation that Mack Brown faces on Saturday. Leon Johnson had another huge performance, running for 139 yards and a touchdown in the win. Quarterback Mike Thomas also had a big game as the Tar Heels raced out to a 30-14 lead before NC State nearly completed a comeback, stopped only by an incompletion from the Wolfpack with no time remaining.

5. October 19, 1974- North Carolina 33 No. 10 NC State 14

NCSU Libraries

One of the highest rankings that a team has carried into this game at any point during the rivalry, the Wolfpack entered the 1974 matchup as the No. 10 team in the country and off to a 6-0 start. The Heels jumped out to a 21-7 lead after the first quarter thanks to three rushing touchdowns from their potent rushing attack. Quarterback Chris Kupec would find the endzone three times in the game, as the Tar Heels would hand the Wolfpack their first loss of the season and end their 14-game conference winning streak.



4. September 23, 1972- North Carolina 34 NC State 33

NCSU Libraries

In another historic 1970’s matchup, we look back at the 1972 meeting in Kenan Stadium between the two teams. The Tar Heels would have to overcome a 4th quarter deficit to the Wolfpack and would do just that to take a 34-27 late in the game. The Wolfpack would drive down and get into the endzone to make it a one-point game and would go for the win instead of the tie. The Tar Heels defense would hold for the dramatic victory over the Wolfpack and one that would help propel the Tar Heels to an 11-1 record.



3. November 28, 1998- North Carolina 37 NC State 34 OT

Robert Mirrett- News & Observer

The only time this rivalry has ever gone to overtime, this matchup, the first of two that took place in Charlotte at Ericsson Stadium, had to land pretty high on this list. The Tar Heels entered this game needing a win to go bowling and jumped out to a 24-3 halftime lead thanks to three first half turnovers from the Wolfpack and two Oscar Davenport-to-L.C. Stevens touchdown passes. The Wolfpack would battle back in the second half and tied the score at 31 thanks to a big performance from Torry Holt, capped by the game-tying touchdown with 2:44 to go in regulation. In overtime, NC State would get the first chance to score, but the Heels defense responded to hold them to a field goal. The Heels would win the game with their possession in the first overtime period, as Oscar Davenport would hit Na Brown for the 14-yard game-winning touchdown pass to complete a dramatic finish to a season that saw the Heels get off to an 0-3 start and give them the sixth straight win in the series.



Saturday is the final game of the 2019 regular season and for the sixth straight year, the Tar Heels will close the season with the rivalry game against NC State. Over the years, this rivalry has produced a lot of bad blood that has begun to boil over, with two of the last three meetings seeing the sidelines clear at one point during the game. This rivalry has also produced some of the best moments in both programs’ histories over the years and one would think this year will be no different.As we get prepared for this 2019 edition of this rivalry, now seems like the perfect time to look at the Tar Heels best wins over the Wolfpack. Here is the Heel Tough Blog’s ranking of the top games against NC State.HM. November 28th, 2015- No. 11 North Carolina 45 NC State 34In the midst of one of the greatest seasons in Tar Heels football history, the Heels traveled to Raleigh for a nationally televised meeting with the Wolfpack. The Heels entered the game with one of the most lethal offenses in the country and wasted no time showing that offense off, scoring 35 points in the first quarter, easily the most ever scored in a single quarter by a team in this rivalry. Both Elijah Hood (21 rush, 220 yds, 2 TD) and T.J. Logan (6 rush, 100 yds, 2 TD) had huge games as the Heels ran for 374 yards and four touchdowns and held off a comeback attempt from the Wolfpack for their 11th straight win of the 2015 season.HM. November 24, 1995- North Carolina 30 NC State 28This was the first time in the rivalry’s history that the teams met to close a season. The Tar Heels entered the game looking for a third straight win in the series and needed the win to go bowling, similar to situation that Mack Brown faces on Saturday. Leon Johnson had another huge performance, running for 139 yards and a touchdown in the win. Quarterback Mike Thomas also had a big game as the Tar Heels raced out to a 30-14 lead before NC State nearly completed a comeback, stopped only by an incompletion from the Wolfpack with no time remaining. 5. October 19, 1974- North Carolina 33 No. 10 NC State 14One of the highest rankings that a team has carried into this game at any point during the rivalry, the Wolfpack entered the 1974 matchup as the No. 10 team in the country and off to a 6-0 start. The Heels jumped out to a 21-7 lead after the first quarter thanks to three rushing touchdowns from their potent rushing attack. Quarterback Chris Kupec would find the endzone three times in the game, as the Tar Heels would hand the Wolfpack their first loss of the season and end their 14-game conference winning streak.4. September 23, 1972- North Carolina 34 NC State 33In another historic 1970’s matchup, we look back at the 1972 meeting in Kenan Stadium between the two teams. The Tar Heels would have to overcome a 4th quarter deficit to the Wolfpack and would do just that to take a 34-27 late in the game. The Wolfpack would drive down and get into the endzone to make it a one-point game and would go for the win instead of the tie. The Tar Heels defense would hold for the dramatic victory over the Wolfpack and one that would help propel the Tar Heels to an 11-1 record.3. November 28, 1998- North Carolina 37 NC State 34 OTThe only time this rivalry has ever gone to overtime, this matchup, the first of two that took place in Charlotte at Ericsson Stadium, had to land pretty high on this list. The Tar Heels entered this game needing a win to go bowling and jumped out to a 24-3 halftime lead thanks to three first half turnovers from the Wolfpack and two Oscar Davenport-to-L.C. Stevens touchdown passes. The Wolfpack would battle back in the second half and tied the score at 31 thanks to a big performance from Torry Holt, capped by the game-tying touchdown with 2:44 to go in regulation. In overtime, NC State would get the first chance to score, but the Heels defense responded to hold them to a field goal. The Heels would win the game with their possession in the first overtime period, as Oscar Davenport would hit Na Brown for the 14-yard game-winning touchdown pass to complete a dramatic finish to a season that saw the Heels get off to an 0-3 start and give them the sixth straight win in the series.2. October 9, 2004- North Carolina 30 NC State 24This game is known as the T.A. McLendon game for what happened at the end of the game, but this was a big game overall for the Tar Heels in the series and in the 2004 season. The Heels jumped out to a halftime lead of 13-6 with to Darian Durant’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Jesse Holley. After the Wolfpack took a 16-13 lead late in the third quarter, Durant would throw two more touchdown passes that came just 1:45 apart thanks to one of three NC State turnovers on the day. The Wolfpack would cut the lead back to three just moments later, but Connor Barth would give the Heels the six-point cushion they needed heading into the final drive. The Wolfpack drive all the way down to the Heels’ 1-yard line, but on 4th & Goal from the 1, running back T.A. McLendon would have the football punched out by Khalif Mitchell and Kareen Taylor would fall on the football to preserve one of the Tar Heels wildest wins in the series.1. October 27, 2012- North Carolina 43 NC State 35This rivalry has produced a lot of crazy finishes, but none as good as this one in the 2012 meeting between the two teams. The Tar Heels entered this game with the Wolfpack looking for their first win in the series since 2006 and they jumped out to a 15-0 lead early in the first quarter. The lead would grow to as big as 18 at one point in a first quarter that produced 39 points between the two teams. The second quarter would produced two touchdown passes for the Wolfpack, as they would take a 28-25 halftime lead. The third quarter would be the calmest of the game, but see the Wolfpack extend their lead to ten with another long touchdown pass. The fourth quarter started with a 9 play, 74 yard drive capped by Bryn Renner hitting Sean Tapley to cut the NC State lead to three. The Heels would put together another nine play drive later in the fourth quarter that would set up a Casey Barth game-tying field goal with 1:24 to go. After allowing 534 yards on the first 18 NC State drives of the game, a Kevin Reddick sack of Mike Glennon would put the Wolfpack in 2nd & long which led to a three-and-out. That would lead to this punt from NC State punter to Giovanni Bernard (his first and only punt return of his career) and the rest is history.

This game is known as the T.A. McLendon game for what happened at the end of the game, but this was a big game overall for the Tar Heels in the series and in the 2004 season. The Heels jumped out to a halftime lead of 13-6 with to Darian Durant’s 23-yard touchdown pass to Jesse Holley. After the Wolfpack took a 16-13 lead late in the third quarter, Durant would throw two more touchdown passes that came just 1:45 apart thanks to one of three NC State turnovers on the day. The Wolfpack would cut the lead back to three just moments later, but Connor Barth would give the Heels the six-point cushion they needed heading into the final drive. The Wolfpack drive all the way down to the Heels’ 1-yard line, but on 4th & Goal from the 1, running back T.A. McLendon would have the football punched out by Khalif Mitchell and Kareen Taylor would fall on the football to preserve one of the Tar Heels wildest wins in the series.



1. October 27, 2012- North Carolina 43 NC State 35

Bob Donnan- USA Today Sports

This rivalry has produced a lot of crazy finishes, but none as good as this one in the 2012 meeting between the two teams. The Tar Heels entered this game with the Wolfpack looking for their first win in the series since 2006 and they jumped out to a 15-0 lead early in the first quarter. The lead would grow to as big as 18 at one point in a first quarter that produced 39 points between the two teams. The second quarter would produced two touchdown passes for the Wolfpack, as they would take a 28-25 halftime lead. The third quarter would be the calmest of the game, but see the Wolfpack extend their lead to ten with another long touchdown pass. The fourth quarter started with a 9 play, 74 yard drive capped by Bryn Renner hitting Sean Tapley to cut the NC State lead to three. The Heels would put together another nine play drive later in the fourth quarter that would set up a Casey Barth game-tying field goal with 1:24 to go. After allowing 534 yards on the first 18 NC State drives of the game, a Kevin Reddick sack of Mike Glennon would put the Wolfpack in 2nd & long which led to a three-and-out. That would lead to this punt from NC State punter to Giovanni Bernard (his first and only punt return of his career) and the rest is history.



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