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UNC escapes William & Mary after fourth-quarter rally

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Johnny White's 67-yard touchdown run with 5:27 to play capped North Carolina's rally from 10 points down in the fourth quarter and lifted the Tar Heels past William & Mary 21-17 on Saturday.

White finished with a career-high 164 yards for North Carolina (5-3), which snapped the Tribe's six-game winning streak. After a lethargic first three quarters against a Football Championship Subdivision opponent, the Tar Heels finally got rolling in time to avoid being upset by a former teammate.

T.J. Yates was 23 of 33 for 238 yards with a 1-yard touchdown run and a 3-yard TD pass to Ryan Taylor.

Mike Paulus -- Yates' former backup at North Carolina -- nearly led William & Mary to another win against one of the Atlantic Coast Conference's big boys. He finished 24 of 35 for 209 yards and touchdowns of 6 and 9 yards to Chase Hill for the Tribe (6-2).

The Tar Heels trailed 17-7 after three quarters before finally putting together their most impressive drive of the day. They converted two fourth downs during an 18-play, 90-yard march that Yates capped with his short touchdown pass to Taylor to pull them to 17-14 with 8:32 left.

Then, after forcing a three-and-out, North Carolina put the ball in the hands of its most reliable running back.

White -- who had a 76-yard scoring run in last week's loss at Miami -- struck from long distance again. He took a third-down handoff through the left side, stiff-armed safety Terrell Wells and cut back to the right on his way to the end zone.

Dwight Jones had nine catches for 107 yards for the Tar Heels, who made just enough plays down the stretch to avoid joining Virginia Tech as ACC schools to be knocked off by Colonial Athletic Association members this season. The Tribe opened 2009 by upsetting Virginia.

Though these schools were playing for just the second time in roughly two decades, there was plenty of familiarity on the sidelines. North Carolina offensive coordinator John Shoop is the younger brother of Tribe defensive coordinator Bob Shoop.

Paulus was one of the key members of North Carolina coach Butch Davis' first recruiting class in 2007. He wound up playing in only four games, didn't attempt a pass in 2009 and transferred to William & Mary following last season in search of more playing time.

He certainly helped William & Mary control this one for three quarters. The Tribe led by 10 at the break thanks largely to two North Carolina turnovers and to Paulus, who came on in relief of injured starter Mike Callahan on the Tribe's sixth offensive play and led two touchdown drives.

Three plays after linebacker Wes Steinman returned an interception to the 18, Paulus found Hill in the corner of the end zone for a score.

Paulus later led an 83-yard scoring drive and found Hill on a sliding slant pattern in the end zone with 23 seconds before the break. Shaun Draughn fumbled the kickoff, Jabrel Mines recovered at the 32 and Drake Kuhn kicked a 28-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

It could have been worse: Kuhn missed a 23-yarder on the Tribe's opening possession.

North Carolina's only points of the first three quarters came on Yates' sneak with 5:34 left in the half.

Kendric Burney, the latest key player to return to the Tar Heels' lineup, started at cornerback. He completed a six-game suspension issued by the NCAA for receiving improper benefits connected to trips, then was held out of the Miami loss because of what the school described as an "unresolved issue."

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