N.C. State wide receiver T.J. Graham (6) beats the last Tar Heel defender, punter C.J. Feagles (30), as runs back a punt for an 87-yard touchdown to give the Wolfpack the lead for good in early in the second half. CHUCK LIDDY - firstname.lastname@example.org
CHAPEL HILL — Two big plays and a stop kept N.C. State's Atlantic Division title hopes alive and gave the Wolfpack a fourth straight win over North Carolina.
The Wolfpack beat UNC, 29-25 in the rivalry's 100th game and one of its most entertaining.
David Amerson and Earl Wolff knocked away a two-point conversion attempt by UNC to seal the win for the Wolfpack (8-3, 5-2 ACC), who are one win away from the ACC title game in Charlotte on Dec. 4.
UNC quarterback T.J. Yates almost derailed the Wolfpack's division title hopes with a mammoth passing game, 411 yards and two touchdowns. His 1-yard touchdown throw to Christian Wilson with 1:05 left cut State's eight-point lead to 27-25.
For the tie, Yates try to hit Highsmith in the right corner of the end zone but it was batted away first by Amerson and then knocked down by Wolff.
The game turned in the same end zone with a similar jump ball, except N.C. State converted the pass for a touchdown and turned a nine-point deficit into a different game.
N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson hit receiver Owen Spencer, via UNC safety Da'Norris Searcy, for a 2-yard touchdown on a wild fourth-down conversion and T.J. Graham returned a punt 87 yards for a touchdown to give the Wolfpack a 24-19 lead. Josh Czajkowski added a 24-yard field goal with 5:44 left in the fourth quarter to give N.C. State a 27-19 lead.
UNC led 19-10 on two third-quarter field goals by Casey Barth before the Wolfpack's game-changing rally. Down nine points with a fourth-and-goal from the 2, State coach Tom O'Brien elected to go for the touchdown. Wilson scrambled back about 15 yards to his right and heaved it to the back corner of the end zone.
From the end line, Searcy leaped and tapped the ball back into the end zone into Spencer's hands. After a lengthy review, the touchdown was confirmed and UNC's lead was cut to 19-17 with 52 seconds left in third quarter.
After a three-and-out by UNC's offense, which had been clicking on all cylinders in the passing game on a record-breaking performance by Yates, Graham took a 43-yard punt by C.J. Feagles at his own 13-yard line and sprinted up the left sideline, Feagles was the only UNC player to touch the speedy Graham who put State up 24-19 for its first lead of the game.
Yates completed his first 11 passes of the game, including a 7-yard touchdown to Anthony Elzy. He had 210 passing yards in the first half as UNC built leads of 7-0, 10-7 and 13-10. Yates completed 32-of-43 for 406 yards to take the UNC's career record for passing yards (eclipsing Darin Durant's career mark of 8,755 yards).
Elzy continues to be a revelation as an injury substitution for Johnny White. Elzy finished with nine catches for 178 yards and a touchdown.
State added a safety on a sack by Terrell Manning with 27 seconds left for its fourth straight win in the series. It's only the second time in the series, which dates back to 1894, State has won four straight.