N.C. State stuns Florida State in final seconds, 17-16

jgiglio@newsobserver.comOctober 7, 2012 

— Down 16 points to the No. 3 team in the country and the best team in the ACC, N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon wasn’t ready to give up on the Wolfpack on Saturday night.

After all, in its previous two ACC home games, N.C. State erased a 27-point deficit and beat a top-10 team.

So by the time Glennon delivered a 2-yard touchdown to receiver Bryan Underwood with 16 seconds left for an improbable 17-16 win over the third-ranked Seminoles, Glennon wasn’t so much surprised as relieved.

“It’s not like we haven’t done it before,” Glennon said, a reference to the comeback against Maryland and the upset of Clemson last November.

“It’s a composure that we have. There’s no panic and we just kept playing.”

After starting the ACC season with a 44-37 loss at Miami, the Wolfpack’s battered defense appeared to be toast before the Seminoles got to Carter-Finely Stadium.

The first half only reinforced the ACC’s pecking order as the Noles (5-1, 2-1 ACC) took a 16-0 lead at the half.

But N.C. State’s defense was able to put Miami behind them and take a new perspective into the bye week: a 4-2 record and 1-1 mark in the ACC.

“We got rid of the Miami thing and got focused on Florida State,” N.C. State coach Tom O’Brien said. “This is a great win for us.”

And it was a repeat of recent history. The last time the Wolfpack faced Florida State at home? A win.

The last time the Wolfpack faced a top 10 team at home (last year against Clemson)? A win.

Underwood’s touchdown — the third successful fourth-down conversion on the game-winning drive — also gave the Wolfpack its 13th win in its past 15 home games.

Glennon, who finished with 259 yards, hit receiver Quintin Payton on fourth and 10 from the 14-yard line to extend the drive. A blocked punt by Mike Rose with 2:27 left set up the Wolfpack’s wild win.

Twice in the fourth quarter, after N.C. State had cut FSU’s lead to 16-10, the Seminoles fast and swarming defense, held the Wolfpack out of the end zone.

FSU cornerback Tyler Hunter stopped N.C. State running back Shadrach Thornton five yards short on a fourth-down pass play with 2:47 left in the game.

But N.C. State’s defense, which struggled in last week’s loss at Miami, was able to pressure FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel (four sacks) and force FSU to kick field goals.

State’s defense gave up an ACC-record 566 passing yards to Miami’s Stephen Morris, but Manuel, who’s in the Heisman Trophy race, was held to 218 with an interception.

Senior running back Chris Thompson had 115 of his 141 yards in the first half. He accounted for 71 of 80 yards on FSU’s only touchdown drive of the game.

Manuel threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to tight end Nick O’Leary, but it was the Noles’ only touchdown of the night.

FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins hit from 49, 20 and 36 in the first half while the Seminoles’ defense held N.C. State to 68 yards and four first downs.

N.C. State had a season-low 166 yards in last year’s 34-0 loss at Florida State. The Wolfpack’s offense found life in the second half after an interception by freshman cornerback Juston Burris.

Burris stepped in front of a Manuel pass intended for Kelvin Benjamin and returned it 11 yards to the Wolfpack’s 41-yard line.

Given the short field, N.C. State took advantage of the FSU defense with a 24-yard touchdown from Glennon to Thornton.

“That was a big play by our defense,” Glennon said. “It really gave us an opportunity to get back in the game.”

Thornton’s touchdown, his third in the past two home games, at 13:47 in the fourth quarter cut FSU’s lead to 16-10.

On the next possession, FSU drove the ball down to N.C. State’s 19-yard line, but on third-and-2, Johnson sacked Manuel for a 15-yard loss.

The Pack got the ball back, but its drive stalled at its own 40.

State’s defense held and got the ball back with 4:35 left and Glennon found Payton for a pair of first downs.

The Pack’s drive reached FSU’s 36-yard line but on third-and-10, Glennon missed tight end Asa Watson and on fourth down, Glennon hit Thornton but for only five yards.

N.C. State’s defense forced another punt and got the big play it needed, the block from Rose, and then the clutch fourth-down conversions from Glennon, first to Payton and then to Underwood for the game-winner.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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