The Hokies (3-3, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) avoided a three-game losing streak and their third home loss in four games by putting together their best offensive quarter of the season against FCS-level competition. Their defense was impressive, too.
N.C. State (4-2, 0-2) lost its second straight league game after starting the season by beating four lesser opponents. The Wolfpack led 10-0 after just 16 minutes, but were outgained 156-2 in the second quarter. They managed just 125 yards of offense after the first 15 minutes.
Motley, who has been filling in while injured starter Michael Brewer recovers from a broken left collarbone, got his fifth start when Brewer was cleared to practice, but not play in a game. Motley was 14 of 28 for 158 yards and ran for 44 yards on nine tries.
Travon McMillian added his first career touchdown with a 59-yard run in the fourth quarter for the Hokies.
Virginia Tech also ended Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett's streak of attempts without being intercepted at 241. Adonis Alexander did the honors, picking off a pass with 1:20 remaining. Brissett was 12 of 25 for just 113 yards. He was sacked four times.
The Hokies, needing badly to reverse a trend that had seen them lose six of their last seven home games against teams from the Power Five conferences, finally found some offensive consistency after falling behind.
Motley hit McMillian for 19 yards and Cam Phillips for 14 yards on consecutive plays early in the second quarter. Three plays later, on third-and-6, Motley hit Ford from 27 yards, a touchdown making it just 10-7.
The defense began the next series with a sack, forced a punt, and the offense drove methodically downfield again.
Motley's 5-yard pass to Ford made it 14-10 Hokies with just fewer than 6 minutes left in the half, and a third-down sack by Woody Baron on third down on the Wolfpack's next series gave the Hokies another chance before halftime.
They had three big conversions on the next march, which ended with 0:18 left in the half.
Motley hit Phillips for 17 yards on third-and-6, threw incomplete toward Bucky Hodges on another third-and-6, but a tripping penalty gave Virginia Tech an automatic first down. On third-and-goal from the 2, he found Ford for the third time, making it 21-10.
Ford became the first Hokies receiver with three touchdown catches in a quarter in coach Frank Beamer's 29 seasons.
Brissett and Jumichael Ramos teamed on an 8-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter for the Wolfpack.