(24) Wake Forest 24

(7-1, 3-1 ACC)

North Carolina 17

(1-7, 0-5 ACC)

Coverage: ESPNU

3:30 PM ET, October 28, 2006

Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC

1 2 3 4 T
#24WAKE 7 7 0 1024
UNC 7 7 3 017

Top Performers

Passing: J. Dailey (UNC) - 156 YDS, 1 TD, 2 INT

Rushing: R. McGill (UNC) - 29 CAR, 117 YDS, 1 TD

Receiving: K. Moore (WAKE) - 6 REC, 82 YDS, 1 TD

Wake holds off UNC; Deacons off to best start since '79

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Three games for Wake Forest against its Tobacco Road rivals, three dramatic endings -- and, most importantly, three wins.

Now the 24th-ranked Demon Deacons' dreams of success can stretch well beyond the North Carolina state line.

Riley Skinner threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Ken Moore and Jon Abbate intercepted a pass in the end zone to seal Wake Forest's 24-17 victory over North Carolina on Saturday.

"I'll stick with the thrills if we can keep getting Ws," Abbate said.

Abbate picked off Joe Dailey on the game's final play after the Tar Heels drove to the Wake Forest 3 with 41 seconds left.

His interception gave the Demon Deacons (7-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) their first season sweep since 1987 over cross-state rivals Duke, North Carolina State and North Carolina.

Each victory came down to the final moments, with Wake Forest blocking a field goal to beat the Blue Devils and intercepting passes in the final minute to hold off both the Wolfpack and Tar Heels.

"This is something we've been building toward for a long time," Demon Deacons coach Jim Grobe said. "We've lost a lot of heartbreakers over the years, but this year we've got a lot of seniors. I'm not sure we're doing it pretty, but we're doing it."

Now Wake Forest remains in contention in the ACC's jumbled Atlantic Division entering next week's home game against division rival Boston College.

"What you (players) did tonight, we've given ourselves a chance to do something pretty special next week," Grobe said.

The Demon Deacons have won seven of eight to start the season for the first time since 1979 and just the third time in school history.

Wake Forest trailed 17-14 before Sam Swank tied it with a 41-yard field goal on the second play of the fourth quarter.

Then, almost immediately, the Demon Deacons' defense helped its offense take the lead for good.

North Carolina was trying to get something going when Cam Sexton found fullback Nick Starcevic toward the right sideline. But Demon Deacons linebacker Stanley Arnoux stripped Starcevic and Josh Gattis recovered at the Tar Heels' 39.

On the next play, Skinner found Moore over the middle for the go-ahead touchdown.

"I looked over at Riley and smiled, and said 'Here we go," Moore said. "We had been setting up the run all day. I think we kind of lulled them to sleep."

North Carolina had one last chance to force overtime, converting two fourth downs on its final drive and advancing to the 3 on Dailey's 44-yard sideline pass to Hakeem Nicks. But three plays later, Abbate stepped in front of Dailey's final pass.

Moore, who also rushed 34 yards on a reverse for a TD, finished with six receptions for 82 yards to lead the Demon Deacons, who kept the hapless Tar Heels (1-7, 0-5) winless in seven tries against I-A opponents.

Nevertheless, North Carolina played inspired football in its first game since the firing of coach John Bunting, effective at the end of the season.

"I knew we were walking into an ambush and I'm just glad to get out of here with our heads above water," Grobe said.

Ronnie McGill had 100 of his 117 yards rushing in the first half and became just the second running back this season to rush for at least 100 yards against the Demon Deacons, joining Clemson's C.J. Spiller. McGill also had a 1-yard touchdown run.

"Just to come out there and prove to everybody that if they call on me that many times, I'm there for them," McGill said. "That's what I thought at the beginning of the season how it would unfold, but we just kept doing different things."

Dailey, making his first start since Week 2 and alternating every other series with Sexton, finished 13-of-19 for 156 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.

"It's not just about the quarterback. It's about other players (who) play on offense also, and the coaches who coach them," Bunting said. "This is a thing that's not been effective the way we wanted it to be, the way we expected it would be. We're all in this together, and we have not achieved enough."

Skinner was 7-of-8 for 89 yards for Wake Forest, which never trailed during the first half but fought off several North Carolina comeback attempts.

Wake Forest took an early 7-0 lead after returning a blocked punt for a TD. Alphonso Smith burst through the middle, smothered David Wooldridge's punt and returned the ball 16 yards for the first score.

North Carolina tied it on its following possession on Dailey's 1-yard touchdown pass to converted tackle Andre Barbour.

Connor Barth kicked a 35-yard field goal in the third quarter to give North Carolina its first lead in a span of nearly 10 quarters, dating back to the first quarter against South Florida on Oct. 14.