Here's a quick overview of the Meineke Car Care Bowl:
How the game was won: Pitt’s Dion Lewis was unstoppable for most of the game, but it was the Panthers’ defense that won it late in the fourth quarter. UNC quarterback T.J. Yates’ pass to tight end Zack Pianalto was high and incomplete on fourth-and-10 with seconds to go, and Pitt kept the Tar Heels out of field goal range. Pitt’s final drive, which started at the 5-yard line, ended with the game-winning 33-yard field goal. While the Panthers found a way to respond every time they needed to, UNC hurt itself with penalties and turnovers and its inability to run the ball. Yates' bowl game was a microcosm of his whole season -- inconsistent with a few questionable decisions.
Turning point: UNC’s defense, which had kept the Tar Heels in so many games this year, was called for being offside with 1:55 left in the game, as three Tar Heels jumped early. Instead of forcing Pitt to make a long field goal, it gave Pitt a first down at the 25 yard line and extended what would be the game-winning scoring drive.
Stat of the game: UNC’s defense, which was holding opponents to just 92.83 rushing yards per game, allowed Lewis 101 yards in the first half.
Player of the game: Pitt’s Dion Lewis redeemed himself from a fumble on the 1-yard line in the first half and just kept going. He finished with 159 yards and a touchdown on 29 carries, and averaged 5.7 yards per carries. His ability to keep his feet moving and his sheer strength and will was too much for the Tar Heels to stop.
Unsung hero of the game – UNC receiver Greg Little. He had seven catches for 87 yards and two touchdowns, and one run for 31 yards. He was the top offensive option for a team that has struggled all year to find consistency.
What it means: Instead of taking the next step under coach Butch Davis, North Carolina finished the season the same way it did a year ago -- with a close, heartbreaking loss to a Big East team in the Meineke Car Care Bowl and eight wins. UNC finished the season with back-to-back losses and showed minimal offensive improvement, if any, heading into 2010 with the same cast of characters.