CHAPEL HILL, N.C. --- 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 for their third consecutive 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 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."