The kick came low and short, bouncing to Wallace Wright at his own 10-yard line. With defenders racing toward him, he nervously bobbled the ball a couple of times before finally gaining control.
Then he started running.
"My whole mentality was to pick up the ball and go, find somewhere to go," Wright said. "Protect the ball first, then get upfield and get whatever yards I can get."
He got them all.
Wright returned that opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, Connor Barth broke out of a season-long slump with three field goals and host North Carolina held off No. 19 Boston College, 16-14, yesterday.
Jesse Holley set career highs with eight catches for 125 yards for the Tar Heels (4-4, 3-2 ACC), who got their second consecutive upset at home. Two weeks ago, they beat then-No. 23 Virginia, 7-5.
After the Eagles (6-3, 3-3) drove 63 yards on their opening drive to tie it at 7, they gained only 274 the rest of the way. Coach Tom O'Brien went to backup quarterback Matt Ryan in the fourth quarter, and he made the final margin much closer with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Larry Lester in the final minute.
But North Carolina tight end Justin Phillips recovered the ensuing onside kick to hand BC its second loss in a row.
Quinton Porter was 16 for 26 for 144 yards before giving way to Ryan. Top rusher L.V. Whitworth was held to 58 yards.
* FLORIDA 49, VANDERBILT 42: Backup cornerback Reggie Lewis, beaten all game by the Commodores' bigger receivers, intercepted Jay Cutler's first pass in the second overtime to give the No. 13 Gators a victory at home.
Cutler threw for 361 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the final 2 minutes 17 seconds of regulation to send the game into overtime.
Vanderbilt and Florida (7-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) exchanged touchdowns in the first overtime. Jeff Jennings ran eight yards for a score for the Commodores, then Chris Leak answered with a nine-yard scoring pass to Chad Jackson.
Jemalle Cornelius made a leaping, 16-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone that put the Gators ahead in the second overtime.
* NOTRE DAME 41, TENNESSEE 21: Brady Quinn threw three touchdown passes and Tom Zbikowski had a punt return and interception return for scores to lead the No. 8 Fighting Irish to a win at home.
The victory made Notre Dame (6-2) bowl eligible in consecutive years for the first time since 1997-98. If the Irish can win their final three games against Navy, Syracuse and Stanford, they could be eligible for a Bowl Championship Series berth for the first time since 2000.
* OREGON 27, CALIFORNIA 20: Third-string quarterback Brady Leaf threw a four-yard touchdown pass to James Finley in overtime and the No. 15 Ducks won at home.
Oregon (8-1, 5-1 Pacific-10) played its first game without starter Kellen Clemens, who is out for the season with a broken ankle.
The Golden Bears had a chance to win in regulation, but Tom Schneider missed a rushed, 53-yard field goal attempt.
* ALABAMA 17, MISSISSIPPI STATE 0: Kenneth Darby ran for 122 yards and the fourth-ranked Tide returned two turnovers for touchdowns over the host Bulldogs.
Brodie Croyle was 14 of 22 for 116 yards for Alabama (9-0, 6-0 SEC).
* OHIO STATE 40, ILLINOIS 2: Troy Smith threw three touchdown passes and Antonio Pittman ran for two scores to lead the No. 12 Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio.
Ohio State's fourth win in a row allowed the Buckeyes (7-2, 5-1) to keep pace with first-place Penn State in the Big Ten with two league games left.
* TEXAS CHRISTIAN 33, COLORADO STATE 6: In Fort Worth, the No. 20 Horned Frogs (9-1, 7-0) wrapped up their first outright conference title in nearly 50 years, clinching the Mountain West.
Robert Merrill and Aaron Brown combined for 178 yards on 29 rushes to lead the league's highest-scoring offense.
* TEXAS 62, BAYLOR 0: In Waco, Tex., Ramonce Taylor ran for 102 yards and three touchdowns and had a 42-yard catch from Vince Young for another score to lead the second-ranked Longhorns (9-0, 6-0 Big 12).
* COLORADO 41, MISSOURI 12: In Boulder, Colo., Lawrence Vickers scored on four touchdown runs and Mason Crosby kicked a 56-yard field goal to help the 25th-ranked Buffaloes (7-2, 5-1 Big 12).
* AUBURN 49, KENTUCKY 27: Kenny Irons, Tristan Davis and Tre Smith combined for 364 yards rushing and five touchdowns for the No. 17 Tigers (7-2, 5-1 SEC).
* LOUISIANA STATE 24, APPALACHIAN STATE 0: JaMarcus Russell passed for 208 yards and two touchdowns in a nonconference game at home, and the sixth-ranked Tigers (7-1) extended their winning streak to six games.
* TEXAS TECH 56, TEXAS A&M 17: Taurean Henderson ran for 109 yards and four touchdowns, and the No. 16 Red Raiders (8-1,5-1 Big 12) beat the visiting Aggies.
* FRESNO STATE 45, SAN JOSE STATE 7: Paul Pinegar passed for 368 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another score to lead the No. 21 Bulldogs (7-1, 5-0 WAC).