BLACKSBURG, Virginia — A fast start had North Carolina State feeling good at Lane Stadium on Friday night.
What followed left coach Dave Doeren disappointing, and grateful for a week off ahead.
Brenden Motley and Isaiah Ford teamed up for three second-quarter touchdown passes and Virginia Tech found a winning formula at home again, snapping a two-game slide in a 28-13 victory against North Carolina State.
The Wolfpack (4-2, 0-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) dropped its second straight league game after rolling through September. And they did it after rolling to a 10-0 lead against the Hokies.
"Obviously, disappointed is an understatement," Doeren said. "We had a fast start to the game and I thought we battled back in the third quarter, but very disappointed in our second quarter. Obviously their response was good and ours wasn't in the second quarter."
That was when the Hokies (3-3, 1-1) outscored them 21-0 and outgained them 156-2, beginning a closing stretch that saw the Wolfpack gain 145 yards in the first quarter and just 125 — and score just 3 more points — the rest of the way.
Those three, on Kyle Bambard's second field goal, made it 21-13 late in the third quarter, but the Hokies responded by converting a third-down play, and then setting Travon McMillian loose for a clinching 59-yard touchdown run with 6:54 to play.
"We came back and we were fighting to get back in the game and gave up the big play," Doeren said.
The Hokies avoided their third home loss in four games.
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.
McMillian's touchdown was the first of his career.
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.
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