RALEIGH, N.C. -- Bryan Underwood caught a 2-yard touchdown pass from Mike Glennon on North Carolina State's third fourth-down conversion on the winning drive as the Wolfpack stunned third-ranked Florida State 17-16 in an Atlantic Coast Conference football game Saturday night.
The winning play came with 16 seconds left, completing N.C. State's rally from a 16-0 halftime deficit.
The Wolfpack showed its own defensive prowess across the final half at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Leading 16-10, Florida State used its last timeout to challenge a call, then punted to N.C. State. The Wolfpack began a drive at its 26-yard line with 4:35 to play and moved to the Florida State 36 before the Wolfpack turned the ball over on downs with 2:47 left.
The Wolfpack (4-2 overall, 1-1 ACC) held while using its three timeouts and then Mike Rose partially blocked a punt, giving N.C. State the ball at the Florida State 43 with 2:27 remaining.
N.C. State converted three fourth-down plays on the last drive -- the second one a 12-yard pass to Quintin Payton that put the ball at the 2-yard line.
Three plays later, the Wolfpack still wasn't in the end zone.
Underwood has caught a touchdown pass in every N.C. State game this season.
Florida State flexed its defensive muscle for most of the game in a hostile territory and had several defensive stands. But not one at the end.
The Seminoles were trying to move to 6-0 for the first time since 1999, when they won the national championship.
Even N.C. State's first possession of the third quarter that lasted nearly seven minutes produced only Niklas Sade's 27-yard field goal. The Wolfpack gained five first downs on the drive, surpassing its total from the entire first half.
The points were a relief for N.C. State, which was a shutout victim last year in a road game with the Seminoles.
Florida State managed one first down across its first two series of the second half. But N.C. State failed to take full advantage against the swarming Seminoles defense.
The Wolfpack caught a break after Florida State penetrated across midfield, with Juston Burris picking off EJ Manuel's pass. Manuel made a tackle to prevent a possible bit return by Burris, a redshirt freshman.
It didn't matter because the Wolfpack marched 59 yards, capped by freshman running back Shadrach Thornton's 24-yard touchdown reception. Thornton did most of the work after catching a short toss from Glennon, pulling N.C. State to within 16-10 with 13:47 remaining.
The Seminoles appeared ready to respond, moving to the N.C. State 20 before burning their second timeout and suffering a third-down sack that pushed them out of field-goal range.
Florida State (2-1 ACC) had topped two other Atlantic Division opponents within the ACC prior to this matchup, but now it will face an uphill climb to return to make it to the ACC championship game.
Florida State's defense made early statements, stifling most of N.C. State's offense. The Wolfpack managed four first downs in the first half as the Seminoles built a 16-0 lead.
Florida State tight end Nick O'Leary caught a 4-yard touchdown pass from Manuel on the third play of the second quarter to boost the Seminoles to a 10-0 edge. The play capped an 11-play, 80-yard drive that consumed more than 5 1/2 minutes. O'Leary's catch came despite close coverage in the end zone by Wolfpack safety Earl Wolff.
But that exposed fears expressed by N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien, who figured that time of possession would be important for his team.
Still, the Wolfpack moved into Florida State territory on its next possession until a threat was doused by Terrence Brooks' interception.
N.C. State had moments on defense, too, forcing the Seminoles to three field goals in the opening half.
N.C. State's defense, which was torched a week earlier at Miami, received a boost by forcing a Florida State punt on the Seminoles' first possession of the game.
Manuel misfired to an open receiver on the next possession and Florida State settled for Dustin Hopkins' season-long 49-yard field goal with 6:34 left in the first quarter.
The Seminoles, who ventured out of their home state for the first time this season, practiced for the crowd noise and the levels hit a high pitch at times. That included when N.C. State's defense held twice late in the first half and Florida State settled for field goals of 20 and 36 yards from Hopkins.
Florida State held a 221-68 upper hand in offense through the first half.
NOTES: N.C. State had won four of the previous six meetings when Florida State held a national ranking. ... The Wolfpack entered the game with 200 or more rushing yards the previous two games, something it hadn't done in consecutive games since 1998. ... Florida State receiver Rodney Smith made a first-quarter reception to extend his string of at least one catch to 30 games in a row. ... The Wolfpack played in its 10th home game against a ranked opponent under O'Brien. It was 5-4 in the first nine such games.