North Carolina was so close Friday to handing rival N.C. State its first home loss of the season. With 2:12 left in the fourth quarter, the Tar Heels thought they had the game in the bag after taking a nine-point lead on Grayson Atkins’ 50-yard field goal.
That was until N.C. State got the ball back. Quarterback Devin Leary threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Emeka Emezie two plays later. UNC’s defenders left Emezie wide open on the play. The drive only took 37 seconds, so N.C. State trailed by two with 1:35 remaining.
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The No. 20 Wolfpack then recovered an onside kick to get the ball back. Three UNC penalties for 35 yards on the ensuing drive set N.C. State up for another score. Twenty-six seconds of game time after Emezie ‘s 64-yard TD reception, he scored again, this time on a 24-yard pass from Leary. That gave N.C. State a 34-30 lead with 1:09 remaining.
UNC tried for its own comeback, driving to the N.C. State 30 with five seconds left, but a Hail Mary throw into the end zone by quarterback Sam Howell was intercepted as time expired.
All it took was a coverage bust for a 64-yard TD to Emeka Emezie, an improbable onside kick recovery, some UNC penalties, and Emezie Mossing a dude here for NC State to comeback from down 9 in about a minute of game time pic.twitter.com/xKnsduKusl
— Bobby Football (@Rob__Paul) November 27, 2021
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According to the ACC Network, the Wolfpack’s comeback was the first of its kind in college football this season:
N.C. State had its own problems holding a lead. It was up 14-0 after the first quarter and 14-10 at halftime. Then it fumbled on its opening drive of the second half, and UNC scored on consecutive possessions in the third quarter to go in front 24-14. The Heels led for 22:56 of the second half until Emezie scored his second TD. UNC’s win probability was all over the place in the game’s final minutes.
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With the win, N.C. State (9-3, 6-2 ACC) kept alive its chances of reaching the conference championship game on Dec. 4. It needs Boston College to beat Wake Forest on Saturday, which would make N.C. State the Atlantic Division champion. The Wolfpack’s victory also eliminated Clemson from the Atlantic race.