NC State escapes Charlottesville with win after Virginia implodes with late penalties

NC State quarterback Brennan Armstrong escapes the grasp of Virginia defensive tackle Michael Diatta during the Wolfpack’s 24-21 win Friday in Charlottesville, Virginia. (Mike Caudill / AP Photo)

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — Brennan Armstrong hit KC Concepcion with a pair of touchdown passes in his return to Scott Stadium and Brayden Narveson kicked a second-chance 33-yard field goal as time expired and NC State beat Virginia 24-21 Friday night.

Narveson’s first attempt from 48 yards was blocked by James Jackson, but he was called for a personal foul, moving the ball 15 yards closer. His second try was true.

The drive was necessary after freshman Anthony Colandrea led Virginia on an 11-play, 66-yard drive and hit Malik Washington from 3 yards out to make it 21-19. The Cavaliers, however, were called for unsportsmanlike conduct after the play, and on their 2-point attempt from the 18, Colandrea hit Malachi Fields to tie it up.

Another 15-yard unsportsmanlike call — this one on the freshman quarterback — forced Virginia to back up 15 yards on the kickoff, and a nice return set the Wolfpack up at the Virginia 48. Three runs by Armstrong moved the ball to the 30.

Armstrong, who transferred after last season, was booed when he trotted onto the field for the opening series, but he displayed many of the attributes that made him one of the nation’s top quarterbacks two years ago. He struggled in a new system last season and reunited this year with former offensive coordinator Robert Anae.

He finished 15 for 30 for 180 yards, the TDs and an interception, and led them with 64 rushing yards, often trying to punish would-be tacklers and former teammates. The Wolfpack (3-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast) won their third straight in the series.

Colandrea started his third straight for the Cavaliers (0-4, 0-1) at quarterback in place of injured starter Tony Muskett. He showed flashes of potential, incuding an 11-yard run and completions of 19, 10 and 12 yards on the tying drive, but also inexperience, throwing a deep ball on the run into quadruple coverage with Virginia trailing 21-13. The pass was tipped and intercepted, the first of his two picks.

Virginia squandered two good scoring chances, including a 1st-and-goal from the four after Colandrea’s 59-yard connection with Washington. Three plays netted just a yard and Will Bettridge kicked a 21-yard FG. He kicked another from 36 yards after the Cavaliers couldn’t convert on 3rd-and-1 from the 19.

Dexter Mimms III’s 1-yard run 28 seconds before halftime gave NC State a 14-7 lead.

The Wolfpack stopped Virginia’s 4th-and-1 try from their own 49 and took advantage, needing seven plays that ended with Armstrong’s 12-yard pass to Concepcion to go ahead 7-0 on the opening play of the second quarter.

The Cavaliers tied it on their next possession, driving 75 yards in nine plays. Colandrea finished it with some nifty footwork to escape pressure, then found Washington in the back of the end zone on 3rd-and-goal from the 8 for the points.

The Wolfpack is at home next Friday night against Louisville.