(Saturday, December 26th)
Final Score: (17) Pittsburgh 19, North Carolina 17
Charlotte, NC (Sports Network) - Dan Hutchins missed his first field goal attempt of the game but hit four more after that, including a go-ahead 33- yarder with 52 seconds left in regulation to lift No. 17 Pittsburgh to a 19-17 victory over North Carolina in the Meineke Car Care Bowl.
"I like having the pressure," Hutchins said. "I came into this game wanting the pressure on me."
The kick pushed the Panthers (10-3) to their first 10-win season since 1981.
Dion Lewis ended his sensational freshman campaign with 159 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries for Pitt. Bill Stull completed 17-of-24 passes for 163 yards, with more than half going to Mike Shanahan, who caught five passes for 83 yards in the victory, the program's first in the postseason since 2002.
"We have a lot of respect for Pitt. We knew their running game was very good. They have a talented running back that can make guys miss," said North Carolina head coach Butch Davis, who compared Lewis to NFL running back Clinton Portis.
Greg Little caught both of T.J. Yates' touchdown passes, ending with 87 yards on seven receptions for the Tar Heels (8-5), who lost in this bowl game for the second straight year.
Yates threw for 183 yards on 19-of-32 throws with an interception and failed to move the team into field goal range in the waning seconds.
Pitt lost its final two games of the regular season, including a 45-44 setback to undefeated Cincinnati in a de facto Big East title game on December 5th.
The Panthers rebounded from that crushing loss thanks to a 17-play, 79-yard drive in the fourth quarter that took nearly nine minutes off the clock.
Trailing 17-16, Lewis ran 13 times for 58 yards on the pivotal drive, which was extended on Stull's three-yard sneak on 4th-and-1 at Pitt's own 30. The march stalled at the opposite end, but North Carolina jumped offside prior to Hutchins' 47-yard attempt with just under two minutes to play.
Three more Lewis rushes gained eight yards and burned the Heels' final two timeouts. Hutchins then split the uprights from 33 yards out to put the Panthers on top.
North Carolina got near midfield with a half-minute remaining, but four straight Yates incompletions ended the comeback bid and resulted in a celebratory shower for Panthers head coach Dave Wannstedt.
"I've been saying all along that we're back as a program, but you have to show up and prove it and win games like this," Wannstedt said.
Hutchins missed a 40-yard field goal on the game's opening possession, and Carolina responded with a seven-play, 77-yard drive that Little capped with a superb 15-yard touchdown reception.
Lewis fumbled in UNC territory later in the frame, but the Panthers got the ball back when Erik Highsmith coughed it up, leading to Hutchins' 31-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
Lewis atoned for his mistake on the next Pitt drive, running for consecutive gains of nine, 25 and 11, the last an untouched scamper around the left end for a 10-7 lead.
Dan Mason intercepted Yates at Pitt's one-yard line near the four-minute mark, and the team's traded field goals to end the half, with Casey Barth hitting a 37-yarder and Hutchins beating the gun from 31 yards out.
Hutchins made it a 16-10 game 5:49 into the third quarter on a 42-yard kick, and another Yates-to-Little combo -- this one a 14-yard strike over the middle -- gave UNC the lead with four minutes left in the third.
Pitt had lost three straight bowls since beating Oregon State in the 2002 Insight Bowl...Ryan Houston gained 83 yards on 24 carries for UNC, which dropped a 31-30 decision to West Virginia in the 2008 Car Care Bowl.
12/26 23:14:45 ET