Key Moment: West Virginia - North Carolina

West Virginia's hopes appeared dim after failing to convert a fourth down and one on its own 44-yard line with just more than eight minutes remaining in the game. But then the Mountaineer defense made a big play that gave the offense one more chance – one that decided the Meineke Car Care Bowl.

After a scoring explosion in the first quarter, the game settled into more of a defensive rhythm in the third quarter. Back to back scores left North Carolina with a 30-24 lead going into the fourth quarter, and when the Mountaineers came up short on third and one and fourth and one tries at their own 44, the Tar Heels appeared poised to take control of the game.

Shaun Draughn ripped off a ten-yard run to the WVU thirty, then got the ball again and headed over the right side. However, he was met at the line of scrimmage by WVU free safety Robert Sands, who knocked him back horizontal to the ground. As Draughn was falling, Sands pried at the ball, which popped loose just before he hit the ground. Linebacker J.T. Thomas pounced on the pigskin to give WVU new life, and the offense wasn't long in responding.

It took WVU just three plays to capitalize on the huge turnover. Quarterback Patrick White hit Jock Sanders for 41 yards in the middle of the field, then dashed nine yards to the UNC 20. On the next play, White fired a laser to Alric Arnett for the score that gave the Mountaineers their first-ever win in Charlotte.

All season long, West Virginia's defense has been a bend-but-don't-break outfit, but one that has been able to come up with a big play or key stop when necessary. Although it gave up 370 yards in the game, it was able to get two big turnovers in the fourth quarter – one to set up the winning score, and the other to seal the game. However, it was the first – one that turned momentum in a huge way – that made West Virginia a 31-30 winner.


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