By AARON BEARD
AP Sports Writer
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) — Maryland figured out a way to get its offense going against North Carolina. The Terrapins just couldn’t keep it moving after halftime Saturday.
The Terrapins had 304 yards by halftime and scored three touchdowns in a span of 34 seconds of game action to go ahead before stalling as the Tar Heels went on to win 45-38.
Maryland’s injury-depleted offense started converted linebacker Shawn Petty at quarterback for the fourth straight game. But the Terrapins totaled 304 yards in the opening half after failing to tally more than 259 in any of the past three games.
Stefon Diggs threw a short touchdown pass on a trick play with 21 seconds left in the half, then Maryland converted a turnover on the ensuing kickoff into a touchdown throw by Petty to make it 28-21 at halftime.
Diggs returned the opening kickoff of the second half 99 yards for a score to make it 35-21, but the Terrapins managed minus-7 yards of offense in the quarter as UNC took control with 24 straight points.
“In the third quarter, we just didn’t execute,” Diggs said. “They had better safety help and better safety play, and they changed their linebackers to more athletic guys. They did a great job on their adjustments.”
For North Carolina, Bryn Renner tied a school record with five touchdown passes, while Gio Bernard ran for 163 yards and a score.
Freshman Quinshad Davis had nine catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns for the Tar Heels (8-4, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), who had another big scoring output in their first season under Larry Fedora. North Carolina won eight games for the second time in three seasons but is banned from a bowl due to NCAA sanctions.
Brandon Ross ran for 141 yards and a touchdown for the Terrapins (4-8, 2-6), who closed their second straight bowl-less season under Randy Edsall.
Renner connected with Davis for a 50-yard scoring pass to start UNC’s game-turning charge in the third quarter, then found Erik Highsmith for a 15-yard scoring pass on the next possession to tie the game. Thomas Moore put the Tar Heels ahead to stay with a 22-yard field goal midway through the third, then Bernard – who tallied his fifth 100-yard rushing game this season — scored from 1 yard out to make it 45-35 late in the quarter.
The Terrapins managed a field goal to make it a one-possession game with 3:12 left, but the Tar Heels moved the chains behind Bernard to run out the clock and send Maryland into the offseason with six straight losses.
As the final seconds ticked away, UNC defensive tackle Sylvester Williams — one of the seniors who stuck around instead of transferring after the NCAA sanctions were announced — doused Fedora with a cooler of water to celebrate the win.
There were also a few chants of “ACC! ACC!” from North Carolina fans, a jab at Maryland’s announcement earlier this week that it would move to the Big Ten in 2014.
Renner completed 28 of 39 passes for 305 yards for UNC, and nearly had his sixth TD pass of the day when he found Davis for what appeared to be a 10-yard score. But officials reviewed the play and determined Davis was down inside the 1, leading to Bernard’s short scoring run.
Petty, Maryland’s fifth QB this year, finished with a career-best 208 yards passing.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)