Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Nebraska's backup quarterback, Randy Garcia, fooling all the Tar Heels with his play fakes, threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes to rally the Cornhuskers to a 21-17 victory over North Carolina in the Liberty Bowl tonight.
In a game that was supposed to have been decided by the spell-binding running of Nebraska's I.M. Hipp or UNC's "Famous" Amos Lawrence, the signal-callers made their bid for nicknames.
UNC's Matt Kupec, voted the most valuable player of the game long before it ended, turned from hero to goat in the last minutes of the contest.
Kupec had completed seven of 11 passes for both of Carolina's touchdowns, thus explaining the result of the eary poll.
But in the final 5 1/2 minutes, Kupec was hit and fumbled, setting up the winning 57-yard drive, tren fumbled again on the Tar Heels' subsequent possession with 2:04 left to squelch chances of a comeback.
Garcia, the senior from Los Angeles who engineered an upset over Alabama, came on in the fourth quarter to pick up an attack that was sputtering against North Carolina's defense, which had allowed fewest points per game in the nation.
"I wanted to put him in earlier, but I didn't have the opportunity," said Nebraska coach Tom Osborne. "Two-thirds of the time, the starting quarterback doesn't finish. Randy bailed us out again."
Starter Tom Sorely played his last series in the third quarter, and a stiffness that developed in his elbow caused him to fumble the ball to the Tar Heels, who led, 17-7.
Then Kupec was intercepted by defensive tackle Barney Cotton, and Nebraska took the ball 74 yards in 11 plays to Garcia's first touchdown pass, a 10-yarder to a wide open Curtis Craig, pulling the Cornhuskers to 17-14.
"I threw a stupid pass and it beat us," Kupec said. "My man was open. I just threw it too low."
With 5:30 left, Kupec was sent scrambling on fourth and seven at Nebraska's 23, was hit and fumbled for a loss of 20 yards.
Six plays later, Garcia went to his play-fakery again to seal the 57-yard drive, launching a pass 34 yards on third and two to Tim Smith, who was alone all the way to the end zone until his teammates piled on him in jubilation! Billy Todd kicked his third point-after and the 11th-ranked Cornhuskers led, 21-17, with 3:16 left.
Kupec then attempted to lead the Tar Heels on a desperation drive, but at the North Carolina 42 he fumbled the snap and middle guard Kerry Weinmaster recovered for Nebraska with 2:04 left.
Garcia came on again to run out the clock.
All this was old hat for him.
"It wasn't as tough as people think," garcia said after his last college game.
The 8-2-1 Tar Heels, champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference, had hoped to gain new respectability for the oft-ignored ACC. A win over a prestigious Big Eight team and acknowledged national power seemed to be just within the Tarr Heels' grasp. The fine defense, prior to Garcia's heroics, had made just two mistakes: twice opening gaping holes for Nebraska fullback Donnie Donnell on the Huskers' first scoring drive. Donnell went through the second hole for a 15-yard score to tie the game at 7 in the second quarter.
"I'm still proud of our ball team. We moved well against a first-rate defensive team and played well enough to win," said UNC coach Bill Doolye. "We just got hurt on those two pass plays."
A six-point underdog, Carolina was rolling through the second and third quarters, even after tailback "Famous" Amis Lawrence sprained an ankle in the second quarter.
A 14-7 lead stood at the half, and UNC added three points on Tom Riddle's wind-aided field goal of 47 yards - a Liberty Bowl record and a Biddle career record.