Switzer had an early long return called back by an illegal block, nothing new for the Tar Heels, before he finally got his shot in the third quarter. Frustrated by the lack of opportunities, he was determined to run the kick back no matter what. It was a high, hanging punt, and the Cincinnati coverage surrounded him. Instead of a fair catch, Switzer made his slickest move before he even touched the ball.
"I kind of played it off," Switzer said. "I was a little sluggish. I called 'peter' [stay away]. When I caught it, no one was around me and I just hit the seam and it was set up perfectly."
Eighty-six yards later, the Tar Heels had a 29-3 lead. Checkmate.
As trips to Charlotte go, Fedora would have no doubt preferred a berth in the ACC Championship Game and not the Belk Bowl, but otherwise this was exactly what he promised when he got to North Carolina: a frenetic offense with playmakers all over the field.
Switzer got his touchdown. T.J. Logan ran back a kickoff. The offense generated three more TDs. The defense added a safety. When required, the Tar Heels changed gears and stomped out a nine-minute drive. They finished the season with wins in six of their final seven games, their second bowl win since 2001 and a big star in the making in Switzer.
"Everyone counts the little guy out. Everyone counts the small guy out," Switzer said. "I always believed in myself. I came to North Carolina because they had a coaching staff that believed in me."
Fans screamed "Ryan!" as he ran off the field, pumping his fists as he exited. It was the end of a long season for the Tar Heels. For Switzer, this is only the beginning.