BLACKSBURG, Va. (AP) — Brenden Motley and Isaiah Ford had apparently heard enough about how missed opportunities had put Virginia Tech in a hole.
The pair teamed up for three second-quarter touchdown passes Friday night, pulling the Hokies out of a 10-0 hole and leading them to a 28-13 victory that was like a soothing salve on open wounds suffered this season, and a few festering one from recent seasons, too.
“We really needed to beat a good football team,” coach Frank Beamer said. “I hope we can take this and build on it.”
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, after a slow start.
The stars were Motley, the backup forced into action since the opening week, and Ford, who draws plenty of defensive attention.
“It’s like basketball when you can’t miss,” Ford said with a wide smile. “I couldn’t not get open, and ‘Mot’ was finding me.”
The pair hooked up on touchdowns of 27, 5 and 2 yards in the quarter.
“The opportunities are always there,” Motley said. “In the second quarter, we just started to convert on them”
The scoring drives came on three successive possessions, the last ending with 18 second left in the half.
Ford became the first Hokies receiver with three touchdown catches in a quarter in Beamer’s 29 seasons.
NC 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.
“I just think we got a little undisciplined in how we were playing,” linebacker Airius Moore said.
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.
“I have to do a better job of getting the ball out of my hands faster, making more plays in the passing game,” Brissett said.
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, and eight of their last 10, finally found some offensive consistency they had been lacking 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.
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.
Brissett and Jumichael Ramos teamed on an 8-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter for the Wolfpack.