Tech quarterback Marcus Vick threw a game-winning touchdown pass to David Clowney early in the fourth quarter, and Tech's defense withstood a last-ditch N.C. State rally to knock off the Wolfpack 20-16 at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., on Sunday night.
With the win, Tech avenged last season's heart-wrenching 17-16 loss to the Wolfpack - the Hokies' lone loss in ACC play last season. The Wolfpack lost a season opener for the first time under head coach Chuck Amato.
"This was a hard-fought, hard-played game," Tech coach Frank Beamer said. "I was impressed with them [N.C. State] in just about every area, but I'm also proud of our team. We hung in there and battled and we did some great things. This was a great win here."
Vick's pass came after a 19-yard punt return by Eddie Royal set the Hokies up with great field position at the N.C. State 20. On third-and-9 from the N.C. State 19, Vick rolled to his left and threw a perfect pass to Clowney, who had beaten N.C. State's Jimmy Sutton in the corner of the end zone. The 19-yard touchdown pass - and Brandon Pace's extra point - gave Tech a 20-13 lead with 12:24 left in the game.
The Wolfpack sliced into that lead on their ensuing possession, cutting it to 20-16 on John Deraney's 35-yard field goal with 8:09 left on the clock. They put the game back in the hands of their defense, which led the nation in total defense last year.
Tech's offense, though, milked the clock. The Hokies drove to the N.C. State 28, forcing the Wolfpack to use two of their timeouts. On fourth down, Beamer elected to have Pace try a 45-yard field goal, but N.C. State ran into Pace on the attempt, giving the Hokies an automatic first down.
Three downs later, after having chewed more than seven minutes off the clock, Tech punted, giving N.C. State one last chance with 39 seconds left in the game. The Wolfpack drove deep into Tech territory, but Tech rover Aaron Rouse picked off his second pass of the game on the game's very last play, preserving the Tech victory.
The game marked the return of Vick, the redshirt junior who missed all of last season while serving a suspension, Vick completed 10-of-21 for 108 yards, with one touchdown and no interceptions. He also rushed 13 times for 31 yards.
"I thought I handled things OK," Vick said. "I thought I could have done better throwing the ball, but they're a great defense. My whole mindset was not to hurt the team. I wanted to move the chains and put us in good spots, and I thought I did that for the most part."
Defensively, Tech struggled to stop an N.C. State offense that featured multiple formations under new coordinator Marc Trestman. N.C. State quarterback Jay Davis completed 27-of-43 for 311 yards and the Wolfpack gained 438 yards of total offense as a team (the most allowed by the Hokies in a season opener since 1986). But Tech's defense forced three turnovers - two on interceptions by Rouse - and kept the Wolfpack out of the end zone for the remainder of the game after N.C. State scored on its first possession.
Tech gets ready for another road contest next weekend as the Hokies travel to Durham, N.C., for a Saturday afternoon tilt with Duke. Kickoff is slated for noon. The Hokies beat the Blue Devils 41-17 in Tech's inaugural ACC game last season.