BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Carolina drew to within three points at the end, but all the UNC mistakes sandwiched between an early 7-0 lead and the 24-21 final earned Virginia Tech another 10-win season and the Tar Heels their second consecutive loss.
UNC forced and recovered a Virginia Tech fumble on the opening drive and freshman running back Giovani Bernard quickly scored a touchdown to go ahead 7-0 to open the game.
Then as the Tar Heels were driving to the goal line on their next possession to possibly take a quick 14-0 lead, senior running back Ryan Houston fumbled the ball. The ninth-ranked Hokies recovered the ball and seized the momentum. Carolina could not regain it until late in the fourth quarter.
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Bernard was having an outstanding game, having gained 45 yards on 10 carries to go with his TD, but a helmet-to-helmet collision with a Virginia Tech tackler left Bernard with a concussion. He sat out the remainder of the game.
In the meantime, the Tar Heels' defense had a difficult time stopping Virginia Tech quarterback Logan Thomas, who hurt UNC as much with his feet as he did throwing the ball.
Logan made several critical long runs to keep drives alive and eventually broke free for a touchdown.
Carolina seemed to stop itself more than Virginia Tech stopped it. UNC committed six penalties for 59 yards in losses. More important, holding penalties and an offensive pass interference call killed UNC drives.
UNC (6-5, 2-5) will play its final regular-season game on Nov. 26 at 3:30 p.m. at Kenan Stadium against Duke.