HONOLULU — It took Arizona 65 years, but the Wildcats finally won a bowl game, beating North Carolina, 30-21, Saturday in the Aloha Bowl.
"It's great to finish on a winning note, that's what counts," said Arizona Coach Larry Smith, whose team was beaten, 29-24, by Stanford in its regular-season finale.
The Wildcats, 0-4-1 in bowl games stretching back to 1921, built a 30-0 lead in the third quarter, but the Tar Heels rallied with three touchdowns.
"At the half, we had controlled the game," Smith said. "Then the guys must have started thinking about bikinis."
Dick Crum, who had lost just one of five bowl games as the Tar Heel coach, said: "We self-destructed in the first half.
"We got better, but we were so far behind, it was hard to play catch-up. Arizona did a good job and hit well.
"They (his players) didn't quit; I'm just disappointed for them because they had a good chance to win in the second half."
Alfred Jenkins threw for 187 yards and a touchdown, and 5-foot 7-inch tailback David Adams rushed for 83 yards, including a 1-yard touchdown run, and had 3 receptions for 77 yards to lead Arizona (9-3).
North Carolina (7-4-1), stunned by five lost fumbles and shut out for most of the first three quarters, roared back from the 30-0 deficit with a three-touchdown outbreak that began late in the third period.
Reserve tailback Torin Dorn started the North Carolina comeback when he scored on a 58-yard run with 2:14 left in the third quarter. Dorn, held to four yards rushing in the first half, ran for 97 in the second.
Mark Maye's 6-yard scoring pass to Randy Marriott, capping a 78-yard drive, cut the deficit to 30-14 with 13:07 left.
Four minutes later, Maye ran one yard for another touchdown after Norris Davis blocked an Arizona punt to give the Tar Heels the ball at the Wildcats' 18.
But Arizona's defense was able to hold the Tar Heels in check for the final nine minutes of the game.
The Tar Heels played without their regular tailback, Derrick Fenner. The Atlantic Coast Conference's leading rusher this season, Fenner did not make the trip because of academic problems.
A crowd of just 26,743, smallest in the five-year history of the game, watched the game at 50,000-seat Aloha Stadium.
Maye, the ACC's top-rated passer this year, completed 17 of 34 attempts for 171 yards.
Arizona, which converted four of the North Carolina fumbles into 20 points, took the lead on Gary Coston's first field goal midway through the second quarter. The score was set up by Jim Birmingham's recovery of a fumble by the Tar Heels' Eric Starr at the Wildcats' 44.
Adams' short touchdown run made it 10-0 four minutes later, and the Wildcats added another field goal by Coston with three seconds remaining in the first half.
George Hinkle's recovery of a fumble by Maye at the North Carolina 47 set up that field goal.
Jeff Valder kicked an Aloha Bowl record 52-yard field goal to make it 16-0 early in the third quarter, before Arizona turned two fumble recoveries into a pair of touchdowns later in the period.
The Jenkins-to-Horton touchdown pass followed Jerry Beasley's recovery of a fumble by North Carolina backup quarterback Jon Hall at the Tar Heels' 30.
On North Carolina's next series, Starr fumbled for the second time, and Byron Evans fell on the ball at the Tar Heel 25 to set up the scoring run by Art Greathouse that made it 30-0.
Starr, who averaged 6.5 yards per carry as Fenner's backup this season, was held to 54 yards in 19 carries by the Wildcats, led defensively by safety Chuck Cecil.