The staff here at Keeping It Heel got together to look back on 2012 and celebrate the top contributors to the athletic program at the great University of North Carolina. Today we will celebrate the greatest achievements in the year that is now behind us and honor those who helped make it memorable. Here we’ll look at our choice for the play of the year, Giovani Bernards game winning punt return for a touchdown to defeat arch rival NC State. Be sure to check back later for the rest of the series where we honor the male & female athlete of the year, the coach of the year, game of the year, team of the year and even the professional alumni of the year. To view portions of this series published so far click HERE.
First I have to admit this one took zero debate, everyone was in agreement on the play of the year. Every other selection we made in this series took some thought, some research at times and some healthy debate among the staff but the minute we moved to the play of the year topic everybody was in agreement immediately, no play comes close to topping Gio’s 73-yard game-winning touchdown against State.
Coming off a devastating loss to Duke the week prior the Tar Heels needed this one against State, they just couldn’t lose two consecutive weeks to their biggest rivals, it simply couldn’t happen. With the game tied at 35 and only 30 seconds left in regulation most assumed overtime was coming, not Giovani Bernard.
Bernard had been banged up earlier in the game but decided to give it a go on the return and subbed himself in after some encouragement from quarterback Bryn Renner. And what happened next is one of the greatest moments in Tar Heel football history, it’s time for me to stop the only way to really appreciate this moment is to sit back and remember where you were sitting and tap into your state of mind before this ball was punted, once you are at that place, press play and relive the excitement of the top play of 2012.