CHARLOTTESVILLE — The walls of the visiting locker room underneath Scott Stadium couldn't mute the sound of victory for N.C. State.
While coach Tom O'Brien talked with the media after the Wolfpack's 28-14 road win over Virginia, the cheers from a happy State team permeated through the cinder blocks.
"This was a big win that we needed," said receiver Bryan Underwood, who had a game-high 125 receiving yards. "It was a rough first half of the season."
State was hoping for a fresh start in the second half of the schedule. The Wolfpack (4-3, 1-2 ACC) returned from a week off with an improved defense and an opportunistic offense, for its first ACC win of the season and first victory at UVa since 1994.
Underwood, an unlikely receiving hero, scored twice and cornerback David Amerson added two interceptions, the second he returned 12 yards for a touchdown to seal the win.
"We definitely needed the win," said quarterback Mike Glennon, who finished with 231 passing yards and three touchdowns. "We've been looking forward to the second half of the season and we needed to get the first one."
The Wolfpack needs at least a 4-2 record in the second half of the season to qualify for a bowl after a disappointing 3-3 start.
Injuries have a been a season-long issue and another starter went down when receiver Tobais Palmer suffered a concussion in warmups.
"You can't make this stuff up," said O'Brien, who was missing two defensive linemen, a linebacker and two running backs.
But Palmer's fluke injury - and the benching of leading receiver T.J. Graham - opened the door for Underwood, a redshirt freshman who began the day with five catches for 76 yards.
Underwood bobbled and dropped what looked like it could have been a touchdown on State's second drive of the game.
"I just took my eyes off it and dropped it," Underwood said. "After that, I really wanted to step up."
Underwood got his chance after Amerson's first interception gave State the ball on Virginia's 33 yard line. A play-fake by Glennon sprung Underwood free down the middle of the field and he hauled in a 33-yard score to give State a 14-7 halftime lead.
Underwood made it 21-7 with a 79-yard touchdown catch, which ran 60 yards of after an incredible balancing act on the sidelines to stay inbounds.
State's injury-riddled and maligned defense, which gave up 79 points and 851 yards in its first two ACC losses, came to life.
The Cavaliers (4-3, 1-2) managed only 24 rushing yards in the second half and 124 for the game, a week after rolling up 272 in an upset of a ranked Georgia Tech team on the same field.
But Virginia's quarterbacks, both starter Mike Rocco and backup David Watford, couldn't find any traction.
"It was a defensive football game in the second half," O'Brien said. "I'm really happy for our kids because it has been a struggle."
Virginia had 36 passing yards on its first 23 pass attempts of the game before Watford struck with a 60-yard touchdown strike to receiver Tim Smith to make it 21-14 at 2:19 in the third quarter.
Clinging to a 21-14 advantage, N.C. State's defense held off Virginia's last chance. With 6 minutes left, Amerson pulled in a tipped pass by Smith and took it 12 yards into the end zone for the touchdown.
Amerson, a sophomore corner, leads the country with eight interceptions and with five games left in the season, tied a 73-year-old school record.
The Wolfpack made a rash of mistakes in the first half, but Virginia couldn't make them pay. State dropped three passes, muffed a fumble recovery and had a field goal blocked.
The Cavs led 7-0 after two Wolfpack defenders couldn't recover a loose fumble. Running back Clifton Richardson caught a 6-yard touchdown from Rocco for the 7-0 advantage at 10:37 in the second.
The Pack got on the board with a 5-yard touchdown from Glennon to running back Tony Creecy and didn't trail again.