The Wolfpack’s (2-3, 0-2 ACC) comeback hit its peak on James Washington’s 46-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to cut the Yellow Jackets (5-0, 2-0 ACC) lead to 21-14. The run marks the longest of the season for the Pack, and the longest of Washington’s career. The junior led all Pack rushers, taking 20 carries for a career-high 131 yards and a touchdown. His 131 yards on the ground are the most since Jamelle Eugene’s 149-yard day against UNC in 2007.
All of the energy expended on clawing away at Tech's 21-0 advantage may have been the difference, as the Yellow Jacket onslaught eventually stung the Pack in the fourth quarter. A deliberate, 7:55 touchdown drive softened up the State defense before Tevin Washington unloaded a 38-yard touchdown strike on the Jackets' next drive. In between those possessions, the Tech defense scored on its own with a pick-six.
Mike Glennon finished the day with 163 yards on 20-of-29 passing with two touchdowns and one interception. Glennon’s lone mistake turned out to be a back-breaker, as Isaiah Johnson took it to the house to give Tech its second 21-point lead of the game at 35-14 with 12:15 left in the fourth quarter.
Trailing 21-7, NC State’s defense came up with a crucial three and out to open the third. That momentum carried over to the Pack offense, as Washington broke his 46-yard touchdown run, on the Wolfpack’s first play of the half, cutting the Tech lead to 21-14.
Tech responded quickly as David Sims scampered 41 yards to the Wolfpack 12. With the Jackets threatening to retake a 14-point lead, State’s defense answered the bell, stuffing a pair of fourth down runs to turn the Jackets away empty handed. On fourth and 2 from the Wolfpack 4, NC State sniffed out an inside run, but lined up offsides. After taking half the distance to the goal, Tech tried a quarterback sneak but could not move the line, handing possession over to the Pack.
A Malcolm Munroe sack derailed the Pack’s next possession, forcing a punt. Georgia Tech’s ensuing drive ate up 7:55, spanning the remainder of the third quarter, and traveled 67 yards in 13 plays, capped by a pitch play from the Pack 2 for Smith’s third touchdown run of the afternoon. The NC State defense gave up two fourth down conversions by jumping offside on the drive.
Johnson picked off Glennon’s pass on the first play of the following drive, returning it 34 yards for a touchdown to push the Tech back to 21. Washington hit Roddy Jones for a 38-yard touchdown on Tech’s next possession to make it 42-14.
Glennon added his second touchdown of the game, hooking up with Tyler Purvis from one yard out with 7:47 left in the game. Tech would add a 45-yard field goal minutes later to extend the lead to 45-21.
With less than a minute remaining, Tyler Brosius threw the first touchdown of his career, a 13-yarder to Purvis, his second of the game. Purvis played the second half after Taylor Gentry left the game with an injury. Brandan Bishop scooped and scored on a late fumble to make the final 45-35.
Facing the highest-scoring offense in the country, the Pack defense rose to the occassion early to stifle Tech’s option attack on the first three plays, but a fake punt picked up 27 yards on a fourth and 10 from midfield to keep the Jacket’s opening drive alive. Smith took a reverse option pitch 10 yards to punctuate the drive, giving Georgia Tech a 7-0 advantage early.
NC State’s second drive featured two third down conversions, but stalled at the Tech 31. Niklas Sade’s 48-yard field goal attempt failed, returning possession to the Jackets. Six plays later, Smith found the end zone for the second time after a nine yard run to put Tech on top 14-0.
Tech’s next touchdown came through the air, as Washington found Sims out of the backfield on a key third down from the Pack 9.
Down 21-0, NC State converted on two fourth downs, including a 28-yard completion from Glennon to Steven Howard to push the Pack to the Tech 3. A pair of penalties knocked the offense back to the 19 on the next two plays. Washington’s 10-yard reception on first down brought the Wolfpack back inside the 10, but the Jackets defense held strong from there, as a fourth and goal pass from the nine sailed beyond the reach of T.J. Graham.
After a Tech three and out, the Pack offense responded, driving 49 yards in 2:39 to cut the Yellow Jacket lead to 14 just before halftime. Glennon connected with Jay Smith on the scoring play, a deep slant to the back of the end zone.
NC State will look to rebound on October 8, hosting Central Michigan at 3:30 p.m. ET.