Pack Routs Jackets, 45-28

ATLANTA, GA -- After building a 31-14 lead through three quarters, NC State held on in the fourth period and eventually pulled away to defeat Georgia Tech 45-28 in its 2010 ACC opener.

In perhaps its first true test of the 2010 season, NC State was up to the task against Georgia Tech, pulling out the victory on the road in Atlanta.

Despite giving up 21 offensive points to the Yellow Jackets, NC State's defense played well against Georgia Tech's flexbone attack, only allowing a couple of big plays to Joshua Nesbitt and company.

NC State and Georgia Tech traded possessions early, with neither team being able to establish any offensive rhythm and both teams committing early turnovers. On its first drive of the afternoon NC State made its way into Georgia Tech territory before Brad Jefferson sacked Wilson and forced a fumble that Tech pounced on to end the drive.

NC State recovered a fumble of its own two possessions later when Tech's Anthony Allen coughed up the ball on the NC State 28-yard line. The Wolfpack took the ball deep into Georgia Tech territory but could not capitalize when Josh Czajkowski missed a 31-yard field goal.

After stopping Georgia Tech on its ensuring possession, the Wolfpack got a break when Asa Watson blocked a punt at Georgia Tech's 21-yard line. Jarvis Williams scooped up the loose ball at the one and took it into the end zone, giving State the 7-0 lead late in the first quarter.

The Wolfpack added three more points early in the second quarter when Josh Czajkowski hit from 35 yards out to put the Pack up 10-0. The seven play drive covered 43 yards and took just over two minutes off the clock.

After another stop by the Wolfpack defense, which allowed 137 total yards in the first half, the Wolfpack took the ball deep into Tech territory before Czajkowski missed his second field goal of the day, once again from 31 yards.

The Yellow Jackets got on the board with 2:30 remaining in the first half when Orwin Smith scored from 10 yards out to make it 10-7.

In what proved to a be a crucial drive in the game, NC State used the final two minutes of the half to march 69 yards in just nine plays and score with :22 remaining. Steven Howard's highlight-reel catch in the back of the endzone put the Pack up 17-7 heading into the locker room at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Georgia Tech wasted little time getting back into the game in the second half, taking the opening kickoff 64 yards in just three plays to pull to within three points at 17-14. Joshua Nesbitt's 61-yard run, the longest of his career, set up a Roddy Jones touchdown just two plays later.

The Wolfpack wasted no time answering, scoring with 9:17 left in the third quarter to go up 24-14 on the Jackets. Russell Wilson hit Jarvis Williams from five yards out to cap the nine play, 78-yard drive.

After forcing a three-and-out on Tech's next possession, NC State pushed its lead to 31-14 when Russell Wilson scrambled in from six yards out on third and goal. The seven play, 61-yard drive took just 3:24 seconds.

Early in the fourth, Georgia Tech pulled to within 10 with a 3 play, 90-yard drive capped off by a 22-yard touchdown pass from Joshua Nesbitt to Tyler Melton. The Yellow Jackets added seven more three plays later when Jarrard Tarrant picked off an errant Russell Wilson thrown and returned it 34 yards for a touchdown.

The touchdown, the fifth non-offensive score of Tarrant's career, pulled Georgia Tech to within three with just over 12 minutes remaining.

Up just three and facing an excited Georgia Tech defense, NC State took the next possession and calmly marched 74 yards in nine plays to go up 38-28. T.J. Graham hauled in a 23-yard pass from Russell Wilson on third and 11 to give push the lead back to 10 with 8:31 remaining.

After forcing another turnover on downs, NC State added another score with 4:08 remaining to go up 45-28. Mustafa Greene's four-yard run, his fourth touchdown in hist first four games, effectively sealed up the victory for the Pack.

NC State stars Russell Wilson and Nate Irving had stellar outings.

Wilson followed up his solid performance against Cincinnati with a career game, throwing for a career-high 368 yards and three touchdowns while adding another score on the ground. He has now accounted for 11 touchdowns through the air with just one interception.

Irving, the Pack's senior middle linebacker, had to be stout against the flexbone attack, and he was dominant. He finished with a game-high 16 tackles, nine solo, 4.5 tackles for a loss, and two sacks.

The win, which pushes the Pack to 4-0 on the year and 1-0 in ACC play, looked much like NC State's three previous victories. The Wolfpack used a balanced offensive attack and a bend-but-don't-break defensive effort to remain undefeated.

The Wolfpack is 4-0 for the first time since the 2002 campaign, when the Wolfpack started out with a 9-0 mark. This marks the second 4-0 start in Tom O'Brien's 14 years as a head coach. His 1999 squad at Boston College also started off with a 4-0 mark.

Next up for NC State is a big-time matchup against ACC rival Virginia Tech. The Hokies defeated Boston College 19-0 earlier today and is now 2-2 on the season. Gametime will be set on Sunday.

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