White leads Heels past the Tigers|RB accounts for 179 yards, two TDs

Published 9:59 pm Sunday, October 10, 2010

By By JOEDY McCREARY, AP Sports Writer
CHAPEL HILL — North Carolina welcomed one player back to the lineup and lost another. If only for one day, the most important Tar Heel wound up being one of their emotional rocks during a most tumultuous year.
Johnny White rushed for two touchdowns and gained 179 total yards, and the Tar Heels held on to beat Clemson 21-16 on Saturday for their third straight victory.
‘‘You can not put a price tag’’ on White’s contributions, coach Butch Davis said. ‘‘As a coach, you can’t put any kind of value greater than what your kids are willing to sacrifice to keep that tight-knit glue, that camaraderie, that community. By being unselfish, it takes an awful lot.’’
White — a senior who has played cornerback and receiver at times during his career — caught six passes for 90 yards, finished with 89 yards rushing, scored on runs of 4 and 26 yards and almost single-handedly iced the game. He rolled up 43 total yards on his team’s time-consuming final drive.
‘‘We pretty much asked Johnny what he wanted to run,’’ quarterback T.J. Yates said. ‘‘He was just huge all day long.’’
Yates was 18 of 34 for 164 yards with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Jheranie Boyd for the Tar Heels (3-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference). They coaxed just enough production out of the offense to beat the Tigers for the first time since 2001.
Kyle Parker’s 74-yard TD pass to Jaron Brown with 5:31 left pulled the Tigers (2-3, 0-2) within five, but they couldn’t convert the two-point attempt and didn’t get the ball back until only 13 seconds remained. Clemson had time for three deep passes, which all fell incomplete.
‘‘I think when you put yourself in a position to win the game three weeks in a row, and you don’t win, it’s tough to come back from that,’’ Parker said.
He finished 21-for-38 for 214 yards for the Tigers, who were held to a season-low 305 total yards and lost their third straight. They’ve dropped their first two ACC games for the first time since 1998.
‘‘I’m extremely embarrassed. I’m very sorry,’’ coach Dabo Swinney said. ‘‘This team deserves better. Clemson deserves better. Fans deserve better. We’re just not a very well-coached football team right now. It’s my fault. I’m extremely disappointed in what I saw today. I saw a team that wasn’t very smart, a team not very disciplined. I saw a team get a lot of critical penalties, right from the beginning of the game.’’
The Tar Heels — who finished with 255 total yards and were held to 15 total yards in the third quarter — certainly needed both of White’s scoring runs. Two plays after his 12-yard catch from Yates on fourth-and-4, White bounced off a series of tacklers on his way to the end zone. That 26-yard run extended the lead to 21-10 with 6:53 to play.
‘‘It felt like it started to wear them down just a little bit,’’ White said. ‘‘Our offensive line, they just dug in late in the game and gave it all they had.’’
Jamie Harper had pulled Clemson to 14-10 with a 10-yard touchdown run with 5 1/2 minutes left in the third. The Tigers drove into North Carolina territory on their next possession, but the drive stalled at the 24 and Chandler Catanzaro’s 42-yard field goal was wide right.
Brown finished with 107 yards receiving on four catches for the Tigers.
On a day safety Deunta Williams returned to the Tar Heels following a four-game suspension, the school also announced a few hours before kickoff that fullback Devon Ramsay — who had played in the previous four games — would sit out after additional information turned up in the ongoing NCAA investigation of the program. The school also said safety Jonathan Smith — who had been held out — would not play this season, but didn’t specify why.
That had the potential to create yet another distraction in a season full of them for the Tar Heels, but they certainly came out looking plenty focused.
White powered in from 4 yards out to cap their opening drive — a 12-play, 48-yard march during which Yates was 6 of 7 for 35 yards. Yates’ pretty 51-yard pass to a streaking White down the left sideline set up his touchdown toss to Boyd with 54 seconds before the half, putting the Tar Heels up 14-3. That came after Clemson pulled to 7-3 with 6 1/2 minutes left in the half on Catanzaro’s 48-yard field goal.