Casey Barth's 23-yard field goal in the second overtime lifted North Carolina to a wild 30-27 victory over Tennessee in the Music City Bowl at LP Field.
T.J. Yates connected on 23-of-39 throws for 234 yards and a touchdown in his last college game for the Tar Heels (8-5), who closed the season by winning their last two games.
"I thought we had lost three straight bowl games by one, two and three points," Yates said. "Somehow, we got an extra shot."
Shaun Draughn carried 23 times for 160 yards and a score while Ryan Taylor snared nine passes for 85 yards for North Carolina, which had lost three bowl games in a row since defeating Auburn in the 2001 Peach Bowl.
True freshman Tyler Bray completed 27-of-45 passes for 312 yards and four touchdowns for the Volunteers (6-7), who had won their last four regular season games.
Gerald Jones made nine catches for 89 yards and a score while Denarius Moore caught four balls for 69 yards for Tennessee, which leads the all-time series, 20-11-1. The teams met for the first time since 1961.
"There's a bunch of guys in there crying, and I told them I was proud of them," said Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley. "You don't always define yourself as a competitor or a man by results that happen. And this team I hope won't."
Trailing 17-14, the Vols took over on their own 37-yard line with 10:17 to go in the game. Three completions to Moore moved Tennessee to the UNC eight-yard line.
Two plays later, Bray rifled a TD pass to Justin Hunter on a play-action fake to finish off a 10-play, 63-yard march. However, Daniel Lincoln missed the extra point, which was costly.
Faced with 4th-and-20 at his own 44 on Carolina's next touch, Yates gunned a pass to Dwight Jones that would have been enough to keep the drive going, but the ball was dropped.
Tennessee took over but could not run out the clock and punted the ball to the Tar Heels, who began their ensuing drive from their own 20 with 31 seconds left.
On Carolina's first snap, Yates completed to Todd Harrelson for 28 yards, and a 15-yard defensive personal foul call was tacked on at the end of the play, moving the ball to the Vols' 37. The catch was upheld on review, allowing the drive to continue.
Yates then found Jones for 12 more yards with 16 seconds to go before Draughn ran to the 18. UNC was out of timeouts and tried to spike the ball as the field goal unit ran onto the field, and it appeared as though regulation time expired. The officials reviewed what had happened and determined that there was one second remaining, though North Carolina was penalized for having too many men on the field.
Barth then drilled the game-tying field goal from 40 yards out. Tennessee roughed him, and the penalty was assessed on the first UNC possession in overtime.
Starting at the Vols' 12, Yates capped off the first series with a one-yard sneak to make it 27-20. Tennessee responded on its second play when Luke Stocker made a leaping one-hand grab in the back of the end zone to tie it at 27 and keep the game going.
The Vols then moved to the 13 before Quan Sturdivant picked off Bray to set up the game-winning score.
Draughn ran for 16 yards on the Heels' first play and for three more on the next play before Barth came on to nail the decisive kick.
UNC started the scoring when Draughn took a pitch and ran over the left side for a career-long 58-yard touchdown just 4:02 into the game.
Tennessee tied the game with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter when Bray found a wide open Jones at the goal line from 29 yards out to end a nine-play, 75-yard drive that was kept alive by Tauren Poole's two-yard gain on 4th-and-1 on the prior play.
Zach Brown picked off a Bray pass and returned it all the way to the Vols' 10 with just under 12 minutes to play in the first half. North Carolina's drive stalled after three plays, and Barth's 28-yarder made it a 10-7 game with 10:24 remaining before the intermission.
The Vols took their first lead of the game with 90 seconds left before the break when Bray hit Da'Rick Rogers in stride inside the five, and the freshman found the end zone to finish off the 45-yard scoring strike.
However, the lead was short-lived, as Carolina answered right back with 27 ticks to go in the half. Yates rolled to his left and threw down the same sideline to Erik Highsmith, who made the catch inside the 10 and went into the end zone to make it a 17-14 contest.
North Carolina is 13-15 in bowl games...The Heels appeared in a bowl game for a third straight year, their longest streak since going to seven straight postseason games from 1992-98...Jones made five catches for 51 yards. The Vols are 25-24 all-time in bowl games. The 49 bowl appearances is good for second all-time along with Texas...Tennessee's 25 bowl wins are fourth all-time behind Penn State's 27 and the 31 victories by both Alabama and USC...The Vols are 7-7 against the ACC in bowl games...Hunter grabbed his freshman-record seventh TD of the season...Poole was Tennessee's leading rusher with 40 yards on 11 totes...Bray was intercepted three times.