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Jackets Sting Wolfpack, 27-17

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AP Sports Writer

ATLANTA – Georgia Tech’s kicking troubles started on the opening kickoff Saturday, when the Yellow Jackets lined up on the wrong end of the field.

Five missed field goals later – including two blocks – they still hung on for a 27-17 victory over North Carolina State as George Godsey threw two touchdown passes and embattled running back Joe Burns ran for 114 yards.

But it was the performance of all-Atlantic Coast Conference kicker Luke Manget that stood out. Manget was 10-of-12 entering the game but hooked his three misses that cleared the line of scrimmage. Two bounced off the left upright.

He connected on a 50-yarder for Georgia Tech’s final points, tying a career long, but also shanked a kickoff out of bounds, drawing the ire of coach George O’Leary.

“I think before today, I had never missed more than two kicks in the same game,” said Manget, who attempted a school-record seven field goals. “I hope I got all of my bad kicks out my system.”

Godsey was 24-of-39 for 256 yards. His second scoring pass, a 4-yarder to Jonathan Smith on the first play of the fourth quarter, gave the Yellow Jackets (5-2, 2-2 ACC) a 24-17 lead.

Burns, who fumbled in overtime against Maryland in the Yellow Jackets’ latest loss, was at his best in the second half, consistently finding holes in the middle of the defense for big gains. He fumbled on his 30th carry in the final two minutes, but Jeremy Muyres intercepted Rivers’ pass on the next play.

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“In football, it seems you have to always defend yourself,” Burns said. “I took some bashing for the way I played in the loss to Maryland. So I was determined to come out today and show everyone how I can play the game.”

N.C. State’s Philip Rivers, who sat out six plays in the third quarter with cramping, threw for 223 yards, including a 55-yard scoring toss to Jeremy Mebane on his first play back. The Wolfpack (3-3, 1-3), last in the ACC in rushing, managed just 41 yards on the ground.

“When you can run the ball, it makes the passing game that much easier,” N.C. State coach Chuck Amato said. “We’ve got to make plays when we get the opportunity.”

Both of Georgia Tech’s defeats have come in overtime, and when Rivers’ pass to Mebane midway through the third quarter tied the game at 17, it looked like the Yellow Jackets might be headed for an extra period again. But an 11-play, 85-yard drive gave them the lead, capped by Godsey’s pass to Smith.

The Wolfpack had another chance to pull even on the ensuing drive, moving to Georgia Tech’s 33 where they faced fourth-and-1. A procedure penalty negated Rivers’ sneak for a first down, and Willie Wright was stopped a foot short on the next play, turning the ball over to the Yellow Jackets.

“Today, I think we did a better job of taking advantage of our opportunities,” said Georgia Tech cornerback Marvious Hester. “We had a nasty taste in our mouths after two overtime losses.”

After the teams exchanged field goals in the first quarter, Ray Robinson gave the Wolfpack their last lead with an 8-yard scoring run. The 80-yard drive took just five plays, with a 47-yard screen pass from Rivers to Robinson the big play.

Godsey’s first touchdown pass, an 18-yarder to a wide-open Sean Gregory, tied the game early in the second period. Chris Young gave Georgia Tech its first lead by returning a fumble 25 yards on the Wolfpack’s second play on the next drive.

N.C. State entered the game fifth in the country in turnover margin.


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