CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- When it mattered most, when Miami needed one defensive stand to force overtime, the Hurricanes simply couldn't do it.
That fact, perhaps as much as a loss that might have taken it out of the national title race, clearly irked coach Larry Coker.
"It's mind boggling," he said.
Connor Barth booted a 42-yard field goal on the final play of the game, giving North Carolina a shocking 31-28 upset of the Hurricanes on Saturday night.
Miami (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today, No. 4 AP) was one of seven unbeaten teams at the start of the day.
"We never even talked about a national championship," Coker said. "What we did talk about is beating North Carolina. That didn't happen."
When Miami called a timeout just before the kick, fans began lining the hedges just outside the sidelines in preparation for the celebration. The ball flew just inside the left upright, and soon the field was covered with people, celebrating North Carolina's first win over a top five opponent. Both goal posts went down.
"It's the best feeling in the world," Barth said. "I've never made a game-winner like that. That was the first one ever, and what a game to do it in."
Darian Durant led the Tar Heels (4-4, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) on a 65-yard drive for the winning points, completing all four passes and getting the final 5 yards on a keeper up the middle. He finished 21-for-29 for 266 yards and two touchdowns, and
Chad Scott overcame an injured hip to rush for a career-high 175 yards.
"It just goes to show that anybody can be beaten on any given day, especially in this conference," Durant said.
Miami (6-1, 3-1) trailed by seven points with 5:24 left, but Brock Berlin drove his team 89 yards to tie it. Devin Hester went in on a sweep from the 11, setting up the final possession for Durant and North Carolina.
Berlin was 20-for-35 for 338 yards and two touchdowns, but the Hurricanes had only 77 yards rushing, the first time all season they've failed to reach 100.
"My hat's off to North Carolina," Coker said. "They outplayed us overall and deserved to win the football game. We win as a team and lose as a team, and that's the case for us tonight."
Coker's team showed signs of faltering in recent weeks, despite winning its first six games for the fourth straight season. In the previous two games, the Hurricanes allowed a total of 947 yards in victories over Louisville and North Carolina State, and the Tar
Heels also took advantage.
They took the opening kickoff and drove 57 yards in only four plays to take a 7-0 lead on Durant's 35-yard scoring toss to Mike Mason. In the first half alone, North Carolina had 351 yards of total offense.
"There's no rhyme or reason," Miami cornerback Antrel Rolle said. "It's just a gut check. They wanted it more than we did. There's nothing really technical to it."
Scott consistently found openings in the defense, and about the only thing that slowed him down was a hip pointer he suffered late in the third quarter. He walked gingerly to the locker room but jogged back to the sideline about 15 minutes later to a loud cheer
from the soldout crowd.
On the first carry of his return, he ran 5 yards on second-and-4 and then capped off that drive by bulling 9 yards into the end zone to make it 28-21 early in the fourth.
"I can't say enough about Chad Scott," North Carolina coach John Bunting said. "And what can you say about the offensive line and what they did?"
Berlin, who had 11 touchdown passes in the past three games, started fast again, going 7-for-9 for 131 yards and two TDs in the first quarter. But the Hurricanes abandoned the passing game and tried to establish the run, a tactic that didn't work. Tyrone Moss led the ground game with 30 yards on eight carries, and leading rusher Frank Gore had only 27.
"It was a very gratifying win and it was nice to see they did not get 100 yards rushing," Bunting said. "When is the last time that happened, 100 years ago or so?"