North Carolina 32
Texas Tech 28
Game Day: December 30, 1972
North Carolina (10-1-0) entered the Sun Bowl ranked 14th in the nation and champions of the Atlantic Coast Conference, while Texas Tech (8-3-0) finished as the runner-up of the Southwest Conference. The Tarheels edged a 32-28 victory over the Red Raiders in the fourth quarter.
North Carolina scored first with a 32-yard field goal by Ellis Alexander.
An unusual play proved to be the most critical of the game. In the second quarter, a blocked North Carolina punt was returned for an apparent Texas Tech touchdown. However, it was called back by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. The officials ruled that a Texas Tech coach was on the field during the play.
Texas Tech was able to score 21 unanswered points to take a commanding 21-9 lead, but North Carolina fought back.
Nick Vidnovic and Ted Leverenz combined for two touchdown receptions in the second half. Billy Hite added a three-yard rushing touchdown, but a successful two-point conversion was also a Vidnovic-Levernez connection. Alexander made one extra point attempt but missed the second to give the Tarheels just a two-point lead with one minute remaining in the game.
Texas Tech needed a miracle to get into field goal range. Instead, North Carolina’s ferocious defense sacked quarterback Joe Barnes on second down in the endzone for a safety with 43 seconds remaining.
North Carolina went up 32-28 and was now in complete control of the game. Texas Tech kicked off and Vidnovic held on to the ball until time expired.
This 1972 Sun Bowl also marked the first time the two teams eah were awarded $100,000 team payments.