ACC Football: N.C. State 28, Virginia 14
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. ó North Carolina State got the midseason momentum-builder it was looking for, and Virginia got the bowl hopes-dampening setback it hoped to avoid.
In a game that both teams figured would have a major impact on how their seasons play out, the Wolfpack emerged with a 28-14 victory Saturday over a Virginia team that for the second consecutive year followed a big upset with a demoralizing loss.
ěIt has been a struggle, but here we are heading into the second half,î North Carolina State coach Tom OíBrien said. ěTo head in with such a big win here and do it the way we did is great. Obviously we have some things to work on but the pains arenít as great right now and Iím happy to go home and get ready to play Florida State next week.î
Virginia, still needing two wins to reach its goal of bowl eligibility for the first time since 2007, has a short turnaround before Thursday nightís game at Miami ó the first of three road games in a five-game stretch that ends at home against in-state rival Virginia Tech.
Last year, the Cavaliers followed a win over a ranked Miami team with four losses to end the season.
Perhaps surprisingly, North Carolina State (4-3, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) won with a stout defense that held Virginia to 249 total yards ó the lowest in Mike Londonís two seasons as the Cavaliersí coach. Starting their fourth defensive line combination in six games because of injuries, the Wolfpack held Virginia to 124 yards rushing a week after the Cavaliers churned out 274 on the ground in the win over Georgia Tech.
ěI think the difference was we stayed in our gaps,î OíBrien said. ěA lot of their stuff last week came at the perimeter and that was one thing we werenít going to let them do.î
Less surprising were the performances of two of the Wolfpackís biggest stars: quarterback Mike Glennon and defensive back David Amerson.
Glennon was 20 of 36 for 231 yards and three touchdowns, and Amerson recorded his BCS-leading seventh and eighth interceptions. On the last one, Amerson snared a ball that deflected off the hands of Virginiaís Tim Smith and returned it 12 yards for the clinching touchdown. His eight picks ties the school record set by Art Rooney, who did it in 1937 and again in 1938.
.Glennon now has 19 touchdown passes this season, and he moved into a tie with Jamie Barnette for sixth place on North Carolina Stateís single-season list.
Two of Glennonís touchdown passes went to Bryan Underwood, One was a 79-yarder that he caught near the sideline, slipping Dom Josephís tackle and barely staying in bounds before outracing the rest of the secondary.
ěI guess he thought he had me out of bounds and I was able to keep my balance and continue to run,î Underwood said. ěI was shocked that I did it.î
The Cavaliers have employed a two-quarterback rotation this season with sophomore Michael Rocco and freshman David Watford, and it was mostly ineffective against the Wolfpack. After Rocco led Virginia on its first touchdown drive, which ended with his 6-yard pass to Clifton Richardson, Watford came in on the Cavaliersí next possession and promptly threw the first of his three interceptions.
Rocco couldnít get much going after that, so Watford got most of the work in second half, with mixed results. He briefly gave the Cavaliers hope by throwing a 60-yard touchdown pass to Tim Smith, but two more interceptions followed, including Amersonís scoring play.
Former West Rowan star K.P. Parks was held to 18 yards on seven carries.