CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Darian Durant threw three touchdown passes, including two in the fourth quarter, to lead North Carolina to a 30-24 upset victory over Atlantic Coast Conference rival No. 25 North Carolina State.
Trailing, 16-13, heading into the final period, North Carolina (3-3, 2-2 ACC) scored 17 fourth-quarter points and got a controversial goal-line stand to defeat the Wolfpack for the ninth time in the last 12 meetings.
After driving to the Tar Heel 2 in the final seconds, North Carolina State appeared to take the lead on a run by T.A. McLendon. One official quickly ruled for a Wolfpack TD but the call was reversed, McLendon fumbled on the next play and the Tar Heels recovered to preserve the victory.
"It was an exciting win," North Carolina coach John Bunting said. "It was one of the very, very best team victories I've been around as a player or coach."
"All I know is that six points were taken off the board," North Carolina State coach Chuck Amato said. "You know what, if we'd have walked in, we wouldn't have this. So let's go on."
Durant hit Adarius Bowman for a 46-yard scoring strike just over two minutes into the fourth quarter to give North Carolina a 20-16 lead. One play after Larry Edwards intercepted a pass by Jay Davis and returned it 54 yards, Durant connected with Jon Hamlett for a three-yard TD to extend the lead to 27-16 with 11:11 to play.
"That quarterback now, he's good," Amato said. "He's good and they made plays when they needed to. You've just got to stop them. We had many opportunities to stop them and we didn't."
The Wolfpack were able to move the ball but were undone by three turnovers. McLendon rushed for 120 yards and a TD on 19 carries as North Carolina State racked up 304 yards on the ground.
Durant completed 15-of-23 passes for 178 yards and the three scores against the nation's top-ranked pass defense, which had yielded only 92.2 yards per game.
"I'm pleased for D.D., he's a great player and a great leader," Bunting said.