RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina State’s players can finally stop seething over an ugly, mistake-filled performance in their Atlantic Coast Conference opener. Now they can think about a memorable comeback that shook up the race for both the conference and national championship.
Mike Glennon found Bryan Underwood for a 2-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 16 seconds left, helping the Wolfpack rally to beat third-ranked Florida State 17-16 on Saturday night. N.C. State trailed 16-0 at halftime, but shut out the Seminoles after the break while cutting down on the miscues that plagued it during last week’s 44-37 loss at Miami.
“I think after a win like that,” Glennon said, “you move on from that other loss.”
In the Miami loss, N.C. State coughed up six turnovers, committed 14 penalties and gave up the winning touchdown pass in the final minute — a performance that led to a players-only meeting early in the week. Against Florida State, the Wolfpack had just one turnover, four penalties and came up with a winning TD pass of its own in the final minute.
N.C. State is headed into an off week before traveling to Maryland and rival North Carolina.
“You just have that extra edge (after a loss),” center Camden Wentz said. “It’s human nature, it really is, when you lose and have a tough game like that.”
The Seminoles (5-1, 2-1 ACC) appeared poised to strengthen their grip on their division, leading 16-0 at halftime behind a dominating defensive performance. But the Wolfpack (4-2, 1-1) inched closer after halftime before coming up with a game-turning blocked punt by Mike Rose with 2:27 left, giving the ball back to Glennon at the FSU 43 with a chance to complete a stunning comeback.
Glennon marched the Wolfpack down the field and completed a pair of fourth-down passes inside the 15, the second when he found Underwood alone over the middle to tie the game and take the lead on the ensuing point-after kick.
FSU drove near midfield in the final seconds, but the Wolfpack defense knocked down EJ Manuel’s desperation heave near the goal line to end it.
The play sent the Wolfpack players spilling onto the field in celebration, capping a stunning turn considering how overmatched they looked overmatched in the first half.
N.C. State never led until Glennon’s late pass and Niklas Sade’s PAT. N.C. State had just 68 yards and four first downs in the first half, with the Seminoles using a short touchdown pass from Manuel and three field goals from Dustin Hopkins to silence a rowdy home crowd.
But the FSU team that was in such control going into the locker room isn’t the one that came out for the second half.
Chris Thompson ran for 115 of his 141 yards in the first half for the Seminoles, while Manuel threw for 218 yards with an interception. Florida State managed just 122 yards after halftime and squandered all three of their timeouts, which proved crucial once the Wolfpack finally pushed in front.
It marked the second straight year the Wolfpack had beaten a highly ranked division rival here. Last season, the Wolfpack upset No. 7 Clemson 37-13 for the program’s first win against a top-10 team under Tom O’Brien.
This game marked the first time a top-five team had come to Carter-Finley Stadium since 1998. And just as in that game, unranked N.C. State upset the Seminoles, who were ranked No. 2 at the time.
The win also changed the race in the ACC’s Atlantic Division. The Seminoles had already beaten Clemson at home, so a win at N.C. State would’ve given the preseason league favorite victories against the two teams projected to be their biggest challengers for the Atlantic Division crown.
As for N.C. State, the Wolfpack knew this was probably their last chance to stay in the division race.
Glennon threw for 259 yards on 30-for-55 passing with two touchdowns, the first being a 24-yard scoring pass to Shadrach Thornton that brought the Wolfpack within 16-10 with 13:47 to play. Then, after Rose’s blocked punt, Glennon calmly moved N.C. State into striking range with a 12-yard pass to Quintin Payton on fourth-and-10 that gave N.C. State a first-and-goal at the 2 with 1:07 left on a drive that ended with Underwood alone in the middle of the field, a step or two into the end zone.
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