(Saturday, December 27th)
Final Score: West Virginia 31, North Carolina 30
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Pat White threw for a career-high 332 yards and three touchdowns on 26-of-32 passing, also rushing for 55 yards on 21 carries as West Virginia edged North Carolina, 31-30, at the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
The senior signal-caller, who was voted the most valuable player, became the first quarterback in FBS history to start and win four bowl games in four seasons for the Mountaineers (9-4), who recorded victories with White directing the offense in the Sugar (2005), Gator (2006) and Fiesta (2007) over the last three years.
White threw the go-ahead 20-yard touchdown pass to Alric Arnett midway through the fourth quarter.
"We've been successful in bowl games since I've been behind center. We've had a lot of great players come through to help us out," said White. "We've had great coaching staffs. At the end of the year we definitely wanted to finish strong. We didn't want to go into summer workouts (with a loss) on our minds."
Arnett caught a pair of TD passes from White, recording 93 receiving yards on seven catches. Bradley Starks hauled in four balls for 61 yards and a score, while Noel Devine rushed 13 times for 61 yards and a touchdown.
Hakeem Nicks had a spectacular day in defeat, with eight receptions for 217 yards and three touchdowns for the Tar Heels (8-5), who completed their season with three losses in four games.
T.J. Yates completed 15-of-25 passes for 211 yards, two scores and an interception while adding a rushing score. James Arnold also recorded a passing touchdown and Shaun Draughn added 65 rushing yards on 17 carries.
"One of the things we talked about as a coaching staff was the speed with which they play and were we going to be able to replicate it during practice," said North Carolina coach Butch Davis. "I felt that our plays defensively eventually got settled down and played much better as the game went along."
The second half opened with similar fireworks as the opening 15 minutes.
Pat McAfee drilled a 25-yard field goal six minutes into the second half to give West Virginia a 24-23 edge, then Yates dove in from four yards out on the next drive to put North Carolina up six.
A potential insurance drive by UNC failed when Draughn fumbled deep in Mountaineer territory. J.T. Thomas recovered at the WVU 30, and four plays later White hit Arnett for a 20-yard strike and a 31-30 lead with 7:14 left in regulation.
Both sides could not generate offense on two successive series, then the Tar Heels got the ball back at their own 26 with 3:15 remaining.
However, Yates was picked off by Pat Lazear with 1:53 to go on a pass intended for Nicks, and White took a knee to run out the remaining time and cap his impressive collegiate career.
"He's the greatest to ever wear the old Gold and Blue. It's a tribute that this young man is the game's MVP," said West Virginia head coach Bill Stewart.
The seventh edition of the bowl from Bank of America Stadium began with a flurry of points in the first quarter.
Devine capped West Virginia's first drive of the game with a slashing 18-yard touchdown run, then North Carolina countered as Nicks hauled in a ball which fell from a Mountaineer defender's hands for a 73-yard TD catch.
The Mountaineers came right back for a 14-7 lead on the ensuing series as White hit Arnett for a 44-yard score, but the Tar Heels countered as Nicks streaked down the right side to bring in Arnold's pass for a 66-yard TD reception.
On the next series, White hit Starks in stride for a 35-yard score and 21-14 contest.
UNC's next set stalled at the one early in the second quarter, as Yates was stuffed on a keeper on 4th-and-goal from the two, but the Tar Heel defense swarmed Devine in the end zone on the following play for a safety.
Yates and Nicks connected once more from 25 yards out with 10:37 left in the half to restore North Carolina's lead at 23-21 and the margin stood at halftime.
West Virginia outgained North Carolina 455-370...White re-established a Big East record for total yards, eclipsing South Florida's Matt Grothe, who overtook White in the St. Petersburg Bowl last Saturday...The clubs last met in the 1997 Gator Bowl, with UNC taking a 20-13 decision...North Carolina's last bowl win came in a 16-10 decision over Auburn in the 2001 Peach Bowl...West Virginia has been invited to postseason competition for seven straight seasons...Jock Sanders had five catches for 70 yards for the Mountaineers.
12/27 19:58:26 ET