by Mike Potter
CARTER-FINLEY STADIUM/RALEIGH It’s the annual biggest football game in the Triangle, and both teams come in after a nasty war of words.
State coach Tom O’Brien responded with a soliloquy about all the Tar Heels’ recent troubles with the NCAA and how they have cheated on academic assignments and paid players and so Withers had no room to talk.
As if they didn’t all dislike each other enough anyway.
And so on a cold and windy but sunny day, they assemble in front of a jam-packed house of Wolfpack partisans for another edition of the series UNC leads 63-31-6.
The Wolfpack gets revenge for all the talk, winning its fifth straight in the series by a 13-0 count. It is the largest margin in a Wolfpack shutout win in series history, and the first State shutout of the Tar Heels since 1960.
State gets on the board first with 8:23 left in the first, as Mike Glennon hits T.J. Graham in the back of the end zone from 20 yards out and Niklas Sade adds the boot, completing an eight-play, 64-yard drive.
And Sade, who misses a 48-yard field-goal attempt at 3:03 of the first, makes it 10-0 on a 26-yarder to complete a 10-play, 30-yard march with 5:48 left in the second.
Sade adds a 24-yard field goal at 7:29 of the third. That one was set up by a 33-yard interception return from the end zone by David Amerson and Glennon’s 54-yard pass to Tobais Palmer.
Glennon completes 16 of 33 passes for 164 yards and a TD with one interception, five completions for 94 yards to Palmer. James Washington carries 27 times for 110 yards for State. Terrell Manning is in on 11 tackles with a sack, while Amerson finishes with five tackles.
Giovanni Bernard carries 18 times for 47 yards for UNC. Quarterback Bryn Renner, whose day is ended by a concussion, completes nine of 17 for 76 yards with two interceptions.
They said it …
O’Brien: “This is a credit to our coaching staff, our kids and our fans. But as I told our guys, be humble in victory. Just smile, wear your red and everyone will know. We knew (stopping the run) was going to be a key. We had to stop (Bernard). We also got to (Renner). I think we hit him more than we’ve gotten to a quarterback all season. We did a great job of keeping pressure on him.”
Withers: “When you’re dealing with 18-22-year-olds you don’t know what you’re going to get sometimes. It bothers me an awful lot to lose any game. This is a big game in this state. This is supposed to be a rivalry and it’s supposed to eat at you. You’re supposed to remember it and come back the next year and do something about it.”
Amerson: “Any time we can get a turnover on a drive when they’ve been getting continuous first downs, it’s real big. It turns it over to our offense and gets the team up a little bit. … This is amazing.”
State LB Audie Cole: “A lot of stuff has been talked about, and we just had to … prove that we’re good enough. I guess we’re the ‘farmers’ and they’re the ‘educated people,’ but whatever. Either way, the farmers will be happy on Monday going to work.”
What does it all mean?
That the Wolfpack moved one step closer to a bowl spot, and that O’Brien’s job security just got a lot better. And that the Tar Heels have two chances to improve their bowl trip.
Stars of the game
Play of the game
Amerson’s interception return.
UNC leads 63-32-6.
State: Won 1.
UNC: Lost 1.
State at Boston College, Nov. 12, 12:30
UNC at Virginia Tech, Nov. 17, 8 p.m.