PITTSBURGH (AP) — Devin Leary hit Emeka Emezie for the go-ahead touchdown with 23 seconds remaining and North Carolina State stunned No. 24 Pittsburgh 30-29 on Saturday.
Leary, making his first start of the season, drove the Wolfpack 79 yards in 12 plays, the final 13 coming on a perfect back-shoulder throw to Emezie, who made a perfect spinning grab to give N.C. State its first victory over a ranked team since 2017. Leary finished 28 of 44 for 336 yards and four touchdowns, including two in the fourth quarter to put N.C. State (2-1, 2-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) in front.READ MORE: 'Best Small Cities In America': 2 Western Pa. Communities Ranked In The Top 25
Kenny Pickett threw for a career-high 411 yards and a touchdown and added two more on the ground, including a go-ahead score with 1:44 to play. Still, Pitt’s bid to start 4-0 for the first time since 2000 ended when Leary picked apart the nation’s top-ranked defense with the game on the line. The Panthers (3-1, 2-1) allowed 398 yards, nearly 180 more than they had allowed coming in.
Leary found Thayer Thomas to convert a 4th-and-9 at the Pitt 23. A holding penalty on the Panthers — their 13th of the day — moved the Wolfpack to the 13 and Leary and Emezie did the rest.
Pickett completed 21 of 37 passes and added 40 yards rushing while often the only option in a running game that was non-existent at times. He scored twice from a yard out in the second half, including the game-winner on a remarkable effort in which he stretched the ball over the goal line after initially getting stopped.
It figured to be enough against a Wolfpack team that ran out of gas last week while getting rolled on the road at Virginia Tech. Instead Leary, slowed during camp due to COVID-19, calmly stared down a defense that led the nation in yards allowed and sacks during an impressive start.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack entered the season needing a jolt following a disappointing 4-8 mark in 2019. The first two weeks — an escape against Wake Forest and a dismal loss to the Hokies — provided little in that department. A road win over a team that considers itself an ACC contender should provide one.READ MORE: Kidsburgh: Martial Arts Teaches Skills That Last A Lifetime
Pitt: The program that finds a way to stub its toe annually managed to do it again in the fourth quarter when the Wolfpack when the length of the field twice to win. Pitt’s defense is good enough to keep the Panthers in every game. The offense’s inability to get into the end zone regularly, however, will allow opponents to do the same.
The Panthers weren’t particularly pleased after they dropped from No. 21 to No. 24 last week when teams from the Big Ten were allowed to re-enter the rankings. There won’t be much discussion this time around.
N.C. State: Travels to Virginia next Saturday. The Wolfpack won the previous meeting between the schools 35-21 in 2018.
Pitt: Hits the road for the first time next weekend when the Panthers play at Boston College. The Eagles are quarterbacked by Pittsburgh native and Notre Dame transfer Phil Jurkovec.MORE NEWS: 2 Pittsburgh Public Schools Will Act As Pilots For COVID-19 Testing Program
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