RALEIGH, N.C. – Tyrod Taylor’s 39-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett Boykin with less than two minutes left gave the Hokies the lead and Darren Evans finished things off with a short touchdown run in the final seconds, as the Hokies rallied from a 17-point deficit to beat N.C. State 41-30 in an ACC game Saturday afternoon at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Tech’s 17-point rally marked the biggest comeback ever under head coach Frank Beamer. The Hokies, who have won three straight, moved to 3-2 overall, 2-0 in the ACC.
“I’ve been proud of this program a lot of times,” an emotional Beamer said following the game. “I don’t know that I’ve ever been prouder than after what we accomplished tonight. Give those players and coaches a lot of credit. It was just a great, great win.”
Tech trailed 17-0 following two touchdown passes by N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson and a field goal by Josh Czajkowski early in the second quarter. But the Hokies rallied and took their first lead of the ball game when Taylor hit tight end Andre Smith for a 4-yard scoring play. Chris Hazley’s extra point gave Tech a 28-27 lead with 12:24 remaining.
The Hokies’ winning drive came after Czajkowski booted a 42-yard field goal with 4:42 left to cap a six-play, 37-yard drive. That enabled the Wolfpack to take a 30-28 lead.
Taylor, though, calmly marched the Hokies down the field. On a third-and-3 from the Tech 47, he eschewed a called pass play and kept the ball, gaining 12 yards and a first down. Two plays later, he hit Boykin on a quick slant and Boykin made several State players missed for a 39-yard score with 1:27 remaining. The Hokies went for two points, but Taylor’s pass fell incomplete and Tech led 34-30.
“I think this drive was about maintaining composure,” Taylor said. “We had time. We didn’t have to rush anything. Just take what they give you and eventually put the ball in the end zone. That’s the main goal. They had given us the ball back and we had had opportunities earlier. So let’s do it now.”
“Earlier, we had the same play open and we weren’t able to connect on it,” Boykin said. “It had been open all night. Once I saw that he was looking at me … he made a great pass and I was trying my best to get in the end zone because we needed a big play and I was hunting for it all day.”
On the first play of the ensuing possession, the Hokies put the game away when cornerback Jayron Hosley intercepted a Wilson pass and returned it to the N.C. State 6 – it was Hosley’s third interception of the game. On the next play, Evans scored, accounting for the final margin.
It was a fitting end for Evans, who rumbled for 160 yards on just 15 carries and scored two touchdowns. It was his first 100-yard game since 2008 – he missed all of last season with a torn ACL suffered in an August practice.
“The offensive line was blocking their tails off,” Evans said. “I was picking and choosing and I just read blocks the right way. I like the stats and all, but it was really the offensive line. They pulled through for me.”
Taylor completed just 12-of-24 for 123 yards, but he threw three touchdown pass – two to Smith – and had just one interception. He also ran for 121 yards on 16 carries, including a 71-yard run that set up a 10-yard touchdown pass to Smith in the third quarter.
“We were down 17-0, but it was early,” Taylor said. “There was a lot of football left to be played. With the type of team we have, I believe we can come back from anything.”
Smith because the first Tech tight end to catch two touchdown passes in a game since Keith Willis in the 2003 Insight Bowl. David Wilson added a touchdown for Tech with a 92-yard kick return to open the second half.
Russell Wilson paced the Wolfpack, completing 21-of-49 for 363 yards and three touchdowns, but also three interceptions – all by Hosley.
Tech will try to continue its winning ways next Saturday when the Hokies return to Blacksburg to face Central Michigan. Kickoff for the game is at noon.
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