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Love is enough as Stanford edges North Carolina in Sun Bowl

Bryce Love
Stanford running back Bryce Love tries to evade North Carolina safety Dominiqie Green during the second quarter Friday.
(Mark Lambie / Associated Press)

Bryce Love took over for the absent Christian McCaffrey in the Stanford backfield, running for 119 yards and catching a 49-yard touchdown pass to help the No. 16 Cardinal beat North Carolina, 25-23, on Friday in the Sun Bowl. 

Stanford (10-3) held on after North Carolina (8-5) pulled within two with 25 seconds left on Mitch Trubisky’s two-yard pass to Bug Howard, sacking Trubisky on the two-point conversion try. 

McCaffrey skipped the bowl game to focus on his NFL career. 

Stanford took a 25-17 lead on Conrad Ukropina’s 27-yard field goal with 3:23 left. North Carolina was forced to punt on its next series, but used two timeouts to get the ball back. 

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After taking over at their own three-yard line, the Tar Heels drove 97 yards in 10 plays and 1:11. After competing passes of 44 and 27 yards, Trubisky capped the drive with the two-yard scoring pass to Howard. 

Stanford then sacked Trubisky on the two-point try, a rush led by Solomon Thomas forcing the quarterback to retreat before being taken down. Thomas was selected the game’s MVP, and the Cardinal defense also got a big game from safety Dallas Lloyd. 

Lloyd intercepted Trubisky’s pass in the first half, then again early in the fourth quarter. He returned that one 19 yards for a touchdown to give Stanford a 22-17 lead.

That stalled a North Carolina rally that saw it go from being down 13-7 at the half and 16-7 early in the third to taking a 17-16 lead. That came after a 37-yard field goal by Nick Weiler and a five-yard TD run by Jordon Brown. 

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