N.C. State wide receiver Bryan Underwood reached out and caught a pass from quarterback Mike Glennon on his fingertips for a 46-yard touchdown. The ball looked like it was just out of reach for Underwood, but he managed to pull it in at the 18-yard line, keep running and then stretch the ball into the end zone without letting his knees touch down first.
"I heard the play and I was telling myself we got to win," Underwood said.. "I beat the corner and I went to go get the ball and I saw Mike kind of threw it too far. . . . I just put my hands out and gripped it."
Underwood beat UConn cornerback Taylor Mack on the coverage and safety Ty-Meer Brown could not catch him as he dove into the end zone from about the two-yard line for the score.
"[Mack] was out on an island and I should have [given] some help over the top," Brown said. "I just got there a little late."
On a day when the UConn defense excelled, it may have been the most glaring mistake.
"It was just streaks, all streaks," said N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien about the play. "Block everybody up and go three guys deep and he [Glennon] picked Bryan [Underwood] out."
Glennon completed 15 of his 30 passes for 204 yards and a touchdown, but was sacked six times. UConn quarterback Chandler Whitmer had the same amount of passing yards on 15 of 27, but threw three interceptions and was sacked three times.
"Bryan [Underwood] just did a great job beating him off the line," Glennon said. "That was a great play."
The play came following a strange UConn turnover. UConn tight end John Delahunt caught a pass, which was tipped by N.C. State's safety Earl Wolff, then fumbled the ball after the catch. And Wolff recovered.
That touchdown proved to be the difference maker in the game, putting N.C. State (1-1) up 10-0 with 8:34 remaining in the third quarter. UConn (1-1) would threaten the lead in the fourth quarter on a five-yard touchdown run from running back Lyle McCombs, making it a 10-7 game. N.C. State stopped UConn's final drive and eventually ran out the clock.
"It just became a defensive struggle," said O'Brien. "We made basically a great throw and a catch for a touchdown."
The low scoring game was a defensive battle. UConn linebacker Yawin Smallwood, who was named Big East Defensive Player of the Week, last week, finished the game with 14 total tackles -two of which were tackles for a loss. UConn defensive end Trevardo Williams had 2.5 sacks and five total tackles. N.C. State had three interceptions, three sacks and recovered a fumble.
"Every time you have turnovers you win," said All-American cornerback David Amerson, who had one interception in the game. "That was a big case last year. In practice, one thing we try to focus on is turning the ball over, getting the ball back for our offense and just playing all around good ‘D'."
Last season Amerson set an ACC and N.C. State single-season record for interceptions with 13. N.C. State led the nation last season with 27 interceptions as a team.
"We just tried to come out here and be a whole and get this team win," said Underwood. "That's what we did. We gave the defense their time to shine and the defense gave us our time to shine. We stepped up and came away with the W today."