ATLANTA (AP) — James Graham threw three touchdown passes, including two to Ahmarean Brown, and Georgia Tech stopped a potential tying 2-point play with about five minutes remaining to beat North Carolina State 28-26 on Thursday night.
Georgia Tech led 21-3 at halftime and 28-13 to start the fourth quarter before holding off N.C. State’s comeback. The Wolfpack rallied on Devin Leary’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Cary Angeline and Ricky Person’s 1-yard scoring run.
Person’s run, with 5:17 remaining, cut the Yellow Jackets’ lead to two points. N.C. State’s 2-point try failed when a pass from Leary, who was pressured by Christian Campbell, was incomplete.
Graham also ran for a touchdown as Georgia Tech (3-8, 2-6 Atlantic Coast Conference) snapped a three-game losing streak.
N.C. State (4-7, 1-6) suffered its fifth straight loss in the matchup of last-place teams in the conference.
Georgia Tech needed an emotional boost after last week’s embarrassing 45-0 home loss to Virginia Tech. A quick-strike touchdown drive to open the game filled the need.
On the game’s first play, Graham threw a 54-yard pass to Malachi Carter. Two plays later, Graham found Brown in the right side of the end zone for a 17-yard touchdown pass.
Graham’s 13-yard scoring pass to former starting quarterback Tobias Oliver gave the Yellow Jackets a 14-0 lead — their first two-touchdown advantage of the season.
A roughing the passer penalty against N.C. State linebacker Isaiah Moore extended a drive which ended with Graham’s 11-yard touchdown pass to Brown for a 21-3 halftime lead.
N.C. State’s defense finally came through with its first two takeaways in ACC games. N.C. State entered the game ranked last among 130 FBS teams with five forced turnovers overall.
The drought ended when Justice Dingle sacked Graham, forcing a fumble recovered by Ja’Quon Griffin at the N.C. State 15 late in the first quarter.
Graham lost another fumble early in the fourth quarter. Larrell Murchison’s recovery set up Leary’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Cary Angeline, trimming Georgia Tech’s lead to 28-20.
Brown’s two touchdown catches give him seven for the season to match Georgia Tech’s freshman record set by Calvin Johnson in 2004.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack gained 457 yards in a strong offensive performance, including 230 on the ground. Knight ran for 100 yards and Jordan Houston added 89. Still, it wasn’t enough to end the losing streak as the Wolfpack gave up 266 yards rushing.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets enjoyed a strong start in their recovery from the lopsided loss to Virginia Tech. Graham lost two fumbles but posted big production with 112 yards rushing and 129 yards passing. Jordan Mason ran for 141 yards and couldn’t be stopped as the Yellow Jackets held the ball for the final 5 minutes.
N.C. State will try to stretch its three-game winning streak against state rival North Carolina on Nov. 30.
Georgia Tech will close its season against No. 4 Georgia on Nov. 30. It will be the Yellow Jackets’ third straight home game. Georgia has won two straight, eight of the last 10 and 15 of the last 18 in the series.
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