October 12, 2002 – State Moves to 7-0
NC State 34, North Carolina 17
This game was perhaps the peak of the Pack’s 9-0 start in 2002. The Heels actually took a 17-7 lead in the third quarter only to watch the Pack score 27 unanswered points, led by freshman T.A. McLendon who scored two touchdowns and ran for 164 yards with a cast on one arm.
Philip Rivers had an unspectacular day, throwing for 170 yards and one touchdown but remained the nation’s most efficient passer. State would go on to finish 10-3 in the regular season and defeat Notre Dame in the Gator Bowl while the Heels finished the season 3-9 with just one conference win.
September 27th, 2003 – Rivers Runs Wild
NC State 47, North Carolina 34
Just another day for Rivers in his senior season as the Heisman hopeful threw for 423 yards on 23-of-30 passing and a touchdown while running for two more scores in a back-and-forth, high-scoring affair.
The Pack grabbed a 21-3 lead after the first quarter only to watch UNC rally back to make it 24-21 at halftime. The Pack took control in the third for good, though, scoring 17 unanswered points to make the final quarter anti-climactic. The game was a microcosm of the entire season, with Rivers and Jerricho Cotchery lighting up the scoreboard while the defense kept floundering.
Philip Rivers was 3-1 as
a starter against UNC.
October 9th, 2004 – T.A. at the Goal Line
North Carolina 30, NC State 24
In the days before instant replay, this is how games were decided. With McLendon laying on the goal line, one referee signaling touchdown only to have his mind changed after a huddle with his co-workers. With McLendon fumbling on the subsequent play and Carolina holding on to a win that will forever be a loss in the minds of NC State fans.
The Pack actually out-gained the Heels by more than 200 yards but turned the ball over three times to help negate the Pack’s advantage in yardage. The Pack trailed for most of first half, took a brief lead late in the third quarter but got outscored 17-7 over the final 15 minutes of play.
September 24th, 2005 – The Battle of Forgotten Quarterbacks
North Carolina 31, NC State 24
You’d be forgiven if you don’t remember much about the careers of Jay Davis and Matt Baker. Baker was the starter for the Heels for one season, finishing his career with 10 touchdown and 13 interceptions. Davis had the unenviable task of following Rivers and started for all of 2004 and half of 2005 before being replaced by Marcus Stone. He finished his career at State with 18 touchdowns and 23 interceptions.
The Pack actually took a 10-point lead in this game early in the third quarter but the Heels scored the last 17 points of the contents to win its 2nd straight game in the rivalry. Davis and Stone played well but the Pack averaged an abysmal 0.5 yards per carry and converted just 3-of-13 on third down.
November 18th, 2006 – Bunting’s Last Stand
Russell Wilson won all
three starts against the Heels.
North Carolina 23, NC State 9
At no other time in the last decade was NC State dominated as thoroughly as in this game, with UNC being coached by an already-fired John Bunting. The Pack never led, failed to score a touchdown and had four turnovers – three of which came in the fourth quarter. Bunting had failed repeatedly to turn the Heels into a winning program, but he had figured out how to consistently beat NC State.
The game served as the final nail in the coffin for Chuck Amato. He wasn’t officially fired until after losing the East Carolina, but the UNC game was his last chance to hold onto his job and his team fell flat. The Pack finished the season 3-9, fired Amato and hired Tom O’Brien a few weeks later.
November 10th, 2007 – The Streak Begins
NC State 31, North Carolina 27
Tom O’Brien’s first game as the Pack head coach against the Tar Heels did not disappoint. The game had defensive touchdowns, a fourth-quarter comeback and plenty of clutch plays – the kind that have come to define this series for the Pack since O’Brien took the helm.
Trailing by three points in the fourth quarter, the Pack caught a big break when T.J. Yates was intercepted by DeMario Pressley – turning the ball over to the Pack at the Carolina 25-yard line. The Pack put the ball in Eugene’s hands from there, handing it to him seven times in eight plays to score a game-winning touchdown. The Heels averaged 0.6 yards per carry that day and scored more points on defense than they did on offense, thanks to two pick-sixes.
November 22nd, 2008
NC State 41, #22 North Carolina 10 – The ‘State Champions’
The biggest blow-out for the Pack in over 20 years, this is the game that fans like to point to the most when discussing O’Brien’s winning streak over the Heels. The game was actually close during most of the first half, but the Pack outscored the Heels 21-7 in the third quarter to turn the game into a route.
The first half ended with the Pack leading 10-3, but touchdown runs by Eugene and Andre Brown along with a 21-yard touchdown strike to Owen Spencer turned the game into a 31-10 route by the end of the third and the blowout was well under way. Apart from the final score, this game is best known for O’Brien’s statements afterwards - “What it speaks to is we're the best football program in the state, without question."
Mike Glennon has won
his only start.
November 28th, 2009 – The Block
NC State 28, #24 North Carolina 27
This was a game that the Pack had no business winning. The Heels dominated most of the first half, but Wilson managed to keep it close by tossing a pair of touchdown passes to Jarvis Williams. Even with their combined effort, Carolina scored 24 points in the first half and the game seemed to be following a familiar pattern for the 2009 version of the Pack.
But the second half was a completely different story, as the defense played perhaps its best 30 minutes of football all season – holding the Heels to just three points. The Heels had 10 penalties for 122 yards and Alan-Michael Cash blocked the game-winning field goal with five minutes left to help seal the Pack’s third-straight win in the series.
November 20th, 2010 – The two-yard Hail Mary
NC State 29, North Carolina 25
Let’s start with the shortest Hail Mary in ACC history. With the Pack trailing late in the third quarter, O’Brien decided to go for it on fourth and goal from the 2-yard line. Wilson dropped back, escaped pressure and just kept backing up. He threw as he was getting hit, still moving backwards, and launched a pass into the end zone. The pass somehow fell through about five pairs of hands, was tipped and ended up being caught by Owen Spencer for a touchdown.
That play completely turned the momentum of the game. The Pack still trailed, but the defense held and Graham returned the ensuing punt to take the lead. Carolina had one last chance to tie it but failed to convert a 2-point conversion with 1:05 left in the game. The Pack capped the day off with a sack of Yates in the end zone, one of seven sacks the Pack’s tenacious defense registered on the day.
November 5th, 2011 – That’s a Triple Play
NC State 13, North Carolina 0
Another game better known for the trash talking surrounding it than the actual game itself. Interim coach Everett Withers got things started early in the week by calling UNC the state’s ‘flagship’ university. O’Brien didn’t take long to respond with his now famous verbal beat- down of the UNC football program – “You have an agent on your staff. You're paying your players. And you have academic fraud. That's a triple play.”
This game itself was a defensive struggle – a battle of field position that the Pack won most of the day. The Pack scored an early touchdown from Mike Glennon to Graham to take the lead and made it a two-score game with a field goal before halftime. Once the Pack knocked Carolina starting quarterback Bryn Renner out of the game with concussion-like symptoms, the UNC offense wasn’t able to do anything and the Pack played field position before taking home the shut-out win.