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THB’s football uniform challenge Quarterfinals: No. 1 vs. No. 8

Which old school set advances to the next round?

This series will determine the ultimate UNC football uniform combination. Each week, your vote decides which set advances to the next round.

It finally happened. For the first time in this uniform challenge, a lower-ranked combination upset the higher seed. Last week, the readers overwhelmingly chose the current all-white “Stormtrooper” set over the home uniform from the 1960s-70s. Check out the latest bracket (click to enlarge):

This week, a couple of sets from late 1970s and 1980s face off in the uniform challenge.

1. 1979-1987 home blue with blue stair-stepped helmet

Ethan Horton
Ethan Horton
Photo courtesy UNC Athletic Communications

It is the uniform of the Dick Crum era (mostly), and the set worn during the last ACC football championship won by the North Carolina Tar Heels. Defined by the unique stair-stepped helmet, this set has a retro feel that is adorned by fans and memorabilia collectors alike.

A moment in this uniform

The 1982 season was a transitional year of sorts for the Tar Heel football program. It was the last season that ended with a bowl win and a spot in the final AP and Coaches polls until 1992. Kelvin Bryant was a senior and finished the year with his third-straight 1,000-yard season. However, an injury in the second quarter of the Sun Bowl ended his Carolina career a half too early. Another running back, Ethan Horton, stepped up and started his ascent to a Tar Heel legend.

The 1982 Tar Heels finished the regular season 7-4 and were invited to the Sun Bowl to take on the No. 7 Texas Longhorns to finish the year.

Late in a scoreless first quarter, Texas blocked a punt deep in Carolina territory and recovered in the endzone. On the subsequent possession, Carolina ended a 40-yard drive with a 53-yard field goal to start the scoring in the second quarter.

Carolina coughed up the ball and the Longhorns recovered the fumble in UNC territory. The Tar Heel defense held at the goal line, and forced Texas to kick. The Longhorns went into the dressing room with a 10-3 halftime lead.

After a Carolina punt to start the second half, Texas made it to the UNC one-yard line. They were stopped on third down, and a 4th and goal attempt was stuffed by the Tar Heel defense. After that turnover on downs, the Longhorns would have just one first down for the rest of the game.

Early in the fourth quarter, a Tar Heel drive ended with a 47-yard field goal. After narrowing the Texas lead to 10-6, a surprise onsides kick by UNC was recovered by the Tar Heels. The Dick Crum trickery did not do much and a fake punt was needed to keep the drive alive after four plays. The drive ended on the Texas six with a 24-yard field goal to make it 10-9 Texas.

The next Texas possession ended in a punt, and the Tar Heels put together another drive that ended in a 42-yard field goal that put Carolina ahead 12-10.

On the subsequent drive, Texas was intercepted by Chris Ward. Seven plays and 30 yards later, Horton punched in the first touchdown of the day for the Tar Heels and extended the UNC lead to 19-10.

Late in the game and deep in their own end, linebacker Micah Moon hit the Texas quarterback, forcing a fumble in the end zone. Mike Wilcher recovered in the end zone and capped off a 23-point UNC fourth quarter to seal the 26-10 Sun Bowl victory for the Tar Heels.

Horton ran for 119 yards on 27 carries, all in the second half. Carolina racked up 224 yards on the ground, while holding Texas to just 130 yards of total offense.

In 1983, Horton and fellow running back Tyrone Anthony each were 1,000-yard rushers. Horton added a 1,247-yard rushing season his senior year in 1984.

8. 1978 blue-on-white with blue helmet with white interlocking NC

Amos Lawrence
Amos Lawrence
Photo courtesy UNC Athletic Communications

These one-season uniforms provided a glimpse of Tar Heel helmets of the future. The uniforms of Dick Crum’s first season in Chapel Hill showed for the first time an interlocking NC directly on the helmet rather than on a field.

A moment in this uniform

Carolina hosted Virginia in the second-to-last game of the season in the 83rd all-time meeting of the South’s Oldest Rivalry.

In the first quarter, defensive back Ricky Barden return an interception 33 yards that set up Carolina’s first score of the day. Receiver Wayne Tucker brought down a 27-yard pass from Matt Kupec to get the Tar Heels on the board.

The second quarter was a shootout, as each team traded a couple of touchdowns. After Virginia tied the game at 7-7, tight end Bob Loomis caught a 17-yard pass from freshman dual-threat quarterback Chuck Sharpe to move ahead.

Sharpe, known for his execution on the option, extended the UNC lead to 21-7 on a 7-yard run. Prior to the conclusion of the half, Virginia scored on a rush from the goal line to give Carolina a 21-14 lead at the half.

The third quarter put the game out of reach for the Wahoos. Sharpe scored another 7-yard rushing TD to move the lead to 28-14. A Jeff Hayes 36-yard field goal later in the third made it 31-14.

Famous Amos Lawrence put the icing on the cake in the fourth quarter with a rushing touchdown from the goal line to move Carolina ahead 38-14. Virginia scored late, and a failed two-point conversion gave UNC a 38-20 victory.

Lawrence had 131 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries, while Sharpe gained exactly 100 on nine carries. One of those carries was a 56-yard dash that was Carolina’s longest run in 1978. This was the first time since 1974 that two Tar Heels rushed for more than 100 yards in the same game.

For Lawrence, it was his fourth 100-yard rushing game that year. With his 167-yard performance in the regular season finale against Duke, Lawrence gained 100+ yards in five of the last six games in 1978, giving him his second-straight 1,000+ yard season. He would go on to have 1,000+ yard rushing seasons each year in his collegiate career.

After the game, Virginia Coach Dick Bestwick said this of Lawrence:

"Amos Lawrence is the best running back I have ever seen. He's better than [Tony] Dorsett, better than anyone. I watched the films and saw him do things with the football I've never seen anyone do and I saw them today. He's the best, just super."

What do you like best about these uniforms? What special moments do you remember while these uniforms were on the gridiron?

Vote below for your favorite. The poll ends next Wednesday.


Which uniform advances to the next round?

This poll is closed

  • 58%
    1. 1979-1987 home blue with blue stair-stepped helmet
    (33 votes)
  • 41%
    8. 1978 blue-on-white with blue helmet with white interlocking NC
    (23 votes)
56 votes total Vote Now