Opportunity can bloom from the most dire circumstances and when Virginia quarterback Brennan Armstrong left the game against N.C. State with an injury, Lindell Stone heard the knock.
Staring down a 24-0 deficit, Stone entered the game and gave the Cavaliers (1-2) a chance to shock the Wolfpack but the comeback fell short in a 38-21 defeat at Scott Stadium.
Virginia pulled within 31-21 with six minutes left in regulation and had the ball for chance to make it a three-point hole but a failed fourth down and ensuing N.C. State touchdown sealed the result.
Before the game, Stone’s career numbers were sparse and dismal: 4 of 12 for 31 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions.
However, Stone didn’t need long to find a rhythm has N.C. State defenders provided plenty of cushion with the big lead. Stone finished 30 of 53 for 240 yards, three touchdowns and an interception that was returned for a touchdown by N.C. State defensive lineman Alim McNeill.
Devin Leary, N.C. State’s sophomore quarterback making just his second collegiate start, dissected Virginia’s defense with the composure of a veteran in the first half while Armstrong looked shaky.
Armstrong threw an interception on the Cavaliers' second drive, lofting a ball for a wide receiver who wasn’t looking and into the grateful arms of cornerback Shyheim Battle.
Leary led the ensuing 50-yard drive, standing unwavering in the pocket amidst inside pressure and eventually hitting Trent Pennix for a five-yard score.
Virginia had no response. The Cavaliers offense was ineffective and after three drives, the team had more penalty yards (36) than total yards (16).
Leary continued his dominance with a perfectly placed 32-yard strike in stride for tight end Cary Angeline and a 14-0 lead.
Virginia then put together its best drive, converting a fourth down thanks to an offside penalty before failing on 4th and goal from the NC State 1 when Armstrong was stuffed on a QB keeper.
The U.Va. defense nearly capitalized on N.C. State’s awful field position but Leary, from his own end zone on 3rd and 8, calmly pulled in his zone read and dashed 20 yards for breathing room. While that drive ended with a punt, Leary and the Wolfpack immediately gained another chance when Armstrong threw his second interception - an errant overthrown pass despite a clean pocket and plenty of time.
A new 17-0 deficit worsened when Armstrong was decked by a charging Tanner Ingle during a scramble. Ingle was disqualified for targeting on the play.
N.C. State padded their lead with a 35-yard run by Zonovan Knight.
Stone - donning a rarely seen number for a quarterback (36) - engineered a 75-yard two-minute drill before halftime capped by his two-yard pass to Billy Kemp.
Stone also notched a one-yard TD to Tony Poljan and a five-yard score to Lavel Davis.
Virginia travels to Wake Forest next week at 4 p.m. Saturday.
For a complete breakdown of the N.C. State-Virginia game, visit pilotonline.com later today.
Ray Nimmo, 757-446-2364, firstname.lastname@example.org
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