ATLANTA (AP) -- Jay Davis and Brian Clark connected on touchdown
passes of 80 and 40 yards, but North Carolina State's biggest catch
in the end zone was made by a defensive player in the final minute.
After driving all the way to the NC State 2-yard line, No. 24
Georgia Tech's second comeback attempt of the game ended with
Garland Heath's interception in the end zone with 26 seconds left,
saving the Wolfpack's 17-14 victory on Thursday night.
Georgia Tech had a first-and-goal at the 2 with 33 seconds left.
Reggie Ball fired a pass in the end zone that hit the hands of
receiver Calvin Johnson who was in the air as he was hit by Marcus
Hudson. Heath grabbed the ball and got two feet down before going
out the back of the end zone.
"We felt like we had a good play where we could fake the run up
the middle and draw people up and give Calvin a chance to win it
one-on-one," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "He's obviously
one of the best players on the field and you are going to give him
a chance to win the ballgame.
"It's just a heartbreaking loss for our football team."
Johnson set a career high with 10 receptions for 130 yards and a
touchdown, but it wasn't enough to keep North Carolina State (2-2,
1-2) from snapping a six-game losing streak in the Atlantic Coast
Conference and a four-game losing streak against the Yellow Jackets
(3-2, 1-2). The Wolfpack won in Atlanta for the first time since
"It's about time we got one, and we almost didn't for the same
reasons -- penalties," NC State coach Chuck Amato said.
The Wolfpack were penalized 10 times for 98 yards.
"Penalties, penalties, penalties," Amato said. "But you know
what, nobody on that team ever gave up. Nobody on that team ever
quit. Nobody thought we wouldn't hold them and go into overtime or
do something big in the end zone."
Though Heath had the interception, Hudson's pressure on Johnson
was not overlooked by his coach.
"No doubt," Amato said. "Those corners played their fannies
off against the best wide receiver in the country."
Clark, who had only three catches this season because of an
ankle injury, had four receptions for 148 yards and the two
Georgia Tech's Travis Bell missed a 27-yard field goal attempt
early in the game and then was wide right again from 24 yards in
the fourth quarter -- the two shortest misses of his career. Bell
has missed five straight field goal attempts over three games after
missing only two attempts as a freshman in 2004.
One play after Bell's second miss, Davis threw over the Tech
defense to Clark, who outran the secondary for the 80-yard
touchdown and a 17-14 lead with 7:39 to play.
Davis passed for 230 yards.
Ball passed for 279 yards and rushed for 88, but threw two
interceptions. Still, Ball led the drive that ended with the
interception by Heath.
"We had the opportunity to make the play in the final minute,
and we just didn't make the play," Gailey said. "I guess that's
life. I don't like it, but I guess that's life."
The Yellow Jackets' close loss to the Wolfpack followed a 51-7
defeat to No. 3 Virginia Tech.
"It's definitely different, this one hurts a lot worse," Tech
cornerback Kenny Scott said.
Johnson's 10th catch, on a fourth-down play, moved Tech to the
NC State 44 with about one minute left. A 14-yard pass from Ball
to P.J. Daniels pushed the Yellow Jackets to the 17. On first down,
Ball ran 15 yards to the 2.
Ball completed only six of 25 passes in the first half as Tech
trailed 10-0. Ball gained momentum on a 97-yard touchdown drive on
his first possession of the second half and Scott's interception
set up the Yellow Jackets' go-ahead touchdown early in the fourth
Daniels scored on a 12-yard run, charging through safety J.J.
Jones' tackle attempt to give Tech a 14-10 lead early in the fourth
The only touchdown of the first half came on a trick play -- a
A 20-yard pass from Davis to Clark set up a first down at Tech's
40. From there, Davis handed off to Toney Baker, who flipped the
ball back to Davis, who passed to Clark for the touchdown.
John Deraney's 36-yard field goal in the second quarter made it
Tech's first touchdown came on a 27-yard scoring pass from Ball
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... NC State's Garland Heath intercepted Reggie Ball in the end zone with 26 seconds left saving the Wolfpack's victory.
Gameball goes to... Brian Clark, who finished with 148 yards receiving and 2 TDs. It was his 80-yard TD -- where he took a short Jay Davis pass and outran the Tech defense for the score -- that put the Pack on top for good.
Stat of the game... 6: The number of consecutive ACC games NC State had lost before beating Georgia Tech on Thursday night.