Atlanta, GA – Tevin Washington's second touchdown run put ranked Yellow 28 victory over North Carolina.
Washington passed for 184 yards and a score for Georgia Tech (4-0, 1-0 ACC), which blew a two-touchdown lead in the fourth quarter before pulling out the victory.
The Yellow Jackets are 4-0 for the first time since 1990, and stayed undefeated thanks to their potent running attack. After running for 604 yards in a record-breaking 66-24 blowout of Kansas last week, they posted 312 Saturday, including 74 from Washington and 79 from Orwin Smith.
"Well, after the first few games we thought we would try and make this more exciting," said Georgia Tech head coach Paul Johnson. "I was proud of our guys and especially the way that we came back in the fourth quarter."
North Carolina quarterback Bryn Renner threw for 204 yards and two touchdowns, with two interceptions, while Giovani Bernard rushed for 155 yards and two scores.
The Tar Heels (3-1, 1-1) had defeated Virginia last week in their conference opener, but couldn't stay undefeated.
They faced a 20-7 deficit after Justin Moore kicked a 36-yard field goal on the opening drive of the third quarter. But a high-scoring second half made for a tight finish.
North Carolina responded to Moore's field goal with a touchdown drive. Renner completed a pass on all five plays, including a 41-yarder to Dwight Jones to begin the march and a six-yard strike to Nelson Hurst for the score.
Georgia Tech then embarked on a 13-play, 81-yard drive, sustaining it with a potent running game. Washington's one-yard plunge on 3rd-and-goal, plus a two- point conversion, made it a 28-14 contest with 1:26 left in the quarter.
Another Tar Heels score -- this time a 20-yard Renner pass to Eric Ebron over the middle on the first play of the fourth quarter -- tightened the gap to one possession again.
The way the game played out over the rest of the frame was defined, at least in part, by missed opportunities.
UNC had a chance to tie the game after holding Georgia Tech to a punt, but Renner was intercepted.
Then, the Yellow Jackets had an opportunity to extend their lead when Stephen Hill broke free along the right side of the field. He was wide open with nothing but space in front of him, but dropped Washington's pass and simultaneously started to limp with an apparent hamstring injury.
Georgia Tech eventually punted, and UNC used the new opportunity to tie the game. Bernard scored on a 55-yard run with 7:22 to play, going virtually untouched as he slipped through a big hole in the middle of the line.
But the Yellow Jackets responded with the go-ahead score. A 48-yard run by Roddy Jones brought the ball to the UNC nine-yard line, and two consecutive Washington runs put Georgia Tech in the end zone with 5:20 to go.
"I almost wanted to let them score, so we could have two minutes left on the clock so we could go down and score," said UNC interim head coach Everett Withers. "But, it didn't work out that way."
North Carolina had two more shots to even the score, but punted from its own 30-yard line on the first and ran out of time during the second. The game ended when the Tar Heels, with no timeouts, were called for an offensive penalty.
The Tar Heels used the game's first drive to take the lead. Bernard rushed for 25 yards on the possession's first play and continued to pace the march. His eight-yard run set up a 1st-and-goal on the 8, and two rushes of four yards got the ball across the goal line.
But the Yellow Jackets stifled UNC's offense for the rest of the first half, holding the Tar Heels to four punts and never letting them advance across midfield.
That effort allowed Georgia Tech's offense to take control. On the Yellow Jackets' first possession, Moore kicked a 40-yard field goal.
He missed a 38-yarder early in the second quarter, and Washington fumbled away the ball deep in UNC territory on Georgia Tech's next drive. But a big play put the hosts in front.
Starting from the 41, Hill lined up on the right side of the field and became wide open when his defender took a few steps in toward the line of scrimmage. With no immediate safety help, the Tar Heels had no hope of covering Hill, who caught Washington's pass for a 59-yard score with 7:57 left in the half.
Later in the quarter, after the teams traded interceptions, Georgia Tech took over at its own 21 and marched down the field using a variety of running plays.
With 11 seconds left in the half, Jones rushed into the end zone on 3rd-and- goal to make it a 17-7 game at the break. Johnson said he was disappointed at halftime because he thought the lead should have been greater.
"We hadn't punted the ball, they hadn't really stopped us, I think we missed just one third down, but yet we weren't up like we should have been," Johnson said.
Georgia Tech amassed 496 total yards, compared to 332 for UNC...Washington completed 10-of-14 passes...Hill led all receivers with six catches for 151 yards.