Oregon Rallies For 28-27 Victory Over North Carolina in Holiday Bowl

SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Bo Nix threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to Chase Cota with 19 seconds left and Camden Lewis’ extra point kick deflected off the left crossbar and went through the goal posts to complete Oregon’s comeback from a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit in a 28-27 victory over North Carolina tonight in the 43rd Holiday Bowl.

Nix completed five of six passes for 56 yards on the Ducks’ 79-yard, eight-play game-winning drive that also included a pass interference penalty.

The touchdown pass came on a fourth-and-2 play. North Carolina drove to Oregon’s 41-yard line but Drake Maye’s desperation pass into the end zone was batted down as time expired in the first football game at Petco Park as the Tar Heels (9-5) concluded their season with four consecutive losses.

Ducks’ running back Bucky Irving was selected as the offensive player of the game, rushing for 149 yards on 13 carries, including a 2-yard run on Oregon’s first drive to open the scoring and a 66-yard touchdown run nine minutes, 13 seconds before halftime.

Ducks’ outside linebacker Mase Funa was selected as the defensive player of the game for making a team-high equaling seven tackles, including a quarterback sack and a second tackle for a loss.

Following a scoreless third quarter, North Carolina increased its lead to 24-14 with 9:13 to play on Noah Burnette’s 19-yard field goal. Oregon (10-3) responded with a five-play, 61-yard drive, culminating with Nix’s 6-yard touchdown pass to Troy Franklin with 6:58 remaining, the Ducks’ first score of the second half.

Burnette kicked a 44-yard field goal on the ensuing drive, giving North Carolina a 27-21 lead with 2:29 remaining. Nix completed 23 of 30 passes for 205 yards and two touchdowns and had one pass intercepted.

Maye completed 18 of 35 passes for 206 yards and three touchdowns. Oregon outgained the Tar Heels 414 yards to 335 and led 22-21 in first downs. North Carolina led 32:49-27:11 in time of possession in front of a crowd announced at 36,242. The capacity was 41,000. Maye’s 6-yard pass to Andre Green Jr. tied the score, 7-7, with 4:37 left in the first quarter.

The Tar Heels re-tied the score, 14-14, on Maye’s 14-yard touchdownpass to Bryson Nesbit with 4:34 remaining in the second quarter. North Carolina took its first lead on Maye’s 49-yard touchdown pastto Kobe Paysour with 26 seconds to play in the first half.

The touchdown came one play after a spectacular interception by Tar Heels’ linebacker Power Echols. Nix’s pass went off the right hand of Ducks’ tight end Terrance Ferguson, deflected off the right thigh of North Carolina linebacker Cedric Gray to the right toes of Echols who then controlled the ball and ran 40 yards before being pushed out of bounds by Nix.

The sale of SDCCU Stadium — where the Holiday Bowl had been played since its inaugural edition in 1978 through 2019 — to San Diego State University in 2020, and its demolition to make way for a west campus and Snapdragon Stadium, left the bowl game without a home.

The San Diego Padres announced a partnership with the San Diego Bowl Game Association in 2021 allowing the Holiday Bowl to be played at Petco Park for a minimum of the next five years, dependent on City Council approval. The City Council granted its approval in July 2021, overturning a previous ban on football at the downtown baseball stadium.

The 2021 Holiday Bowl was scheduled for Petco Park, but UCLA withdrew hours before the planned opening kickoff “due to COVID-19 protocols within the Bruins’ program,” according to the university. Organizers had sought a replacement for UCLA, but were unable to find one. The 2020 game was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic before the site was announced.

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