MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — No. 5 Texas A&M scored 24 points in the fourth quarter, including a pair of touchdown runs by Devon Achane, as the fifth-ranked Aggies held off No. 14 North Carolina 41-27 on Saturday night in the Orange Bowl, helping head coach Jimbo Fisher to remain undefeated at Hard Rock Stadium.
With the game tied at 27 late in the fourth quarter, the third-string running back scored twice in the final 4 minutes to seal the victory for the Aggies (9-1).
Texas A&M outscored the Tar Heels (8-4) 24-7 in the final quarter.
"We always talk about finish, and that's exactly what we did," Achane told reporters after the game.
Achane, who was named most outstanding player, finished the game with 12 carries for 140 yards and two touchdowns in relief of Isaiah Spiller, who added a pair of touchdown runs in the first half.
Texas A&M quarterback Kellen Mond threw for 232 yards and scored on a 4-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter as the Aggies reeled off the final 21 points of the game.
Fisher improved to 7-0 at Hard Rock Stadium, including a 3-0 record in Orange Bowl appearances dating to his time at Florida State. Fisher is also 3-0 in bowl games since taking over at Texas A&M.
The Aggies, who were playing in their first Orange Bowl since 1944, finished on an eight-game winning streak.
North Carolina was without leading rushers Javonte Williams and Michael Carter, leading receiver Dyami Brown and top tackler Chazz Surratt, all of whom opted out of the bowl game, but quarterback Sam Howell threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns -- two of them to Josh Downs -- that helped the Tar Heels pull ahead of the Aggies each time.
Howell has now thrown a touchdown pass in all 25 games of his college career, which is the longest active streak in the nation.
"We were so close," Howell said. "I think we played a heck of a game out there tonight. We just came up short."
North Carolina's loss capped a winless record for Atlantic Coast Conference teams in bowl games this season. Among them were No. 4 Notre Dame, playing in the ACC this season because of the coronavirus pandemic, and No. 2 Clemson. Both teams made the College Football Playoff but lost to top-ranked Alabama and No. 3 Ohio State, respectively, in the semifinals.
Left out of the four-team playoff were the Aggies, who believe they were deserving of a spot. They had hoped to be playing in South Florida a week from Monday, when Hard Rock Stadium will host the College Football Playoff National Championship. They won't get that chance, instead settling for a victory on the same field in the penultimate college football game.
"We were happy to go do what we need to do a little bit better obviously, so we've got to go back to work and do that," Fisher said.
For Fisher, the win caps his third season at Texas A&M. Fisher's Seminoles won an Orange Bowl in his third season at FSU and a national title in his fourth.
Will history repeat itself in 2021?
"I'll take the fourth year just like it was there, too, I promise," Fisher said. "But listen, that doesn't happen without a lot of work, and it doesn't happen without a lot of circumstance. Is the ability and the vision there? Yes. That's our plan and that's what we want to do, but now we've got to go back and work."