RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Freshman Ricky Person ran for a season-high 108 yards while receivers Kelvin Harmon and Emeka Emezie had big days to help North Carolina State beat Virginia 35-21 on Saturday in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener.
Person hadn't played since the season opener while dealing with a hamstring issue, but he provided big-play burst to the Wolfpack's grind-it-out ground game.
Harmon finished with six catches for 94 yards and a touchdown on a back-shoulder throw from Ryan Finley in the fourth quarter for the Wolfpack (4-0, 1-0). And Emezie, a sophomore, had a career-best 90 yards on five catches with a second-quarter TD.
Bryce Perkins connected twice with Olamide Zaccheaus for touchdowns for the Cavaliers (3-2, 1-1), including a 35-yarder for Virginia's only lead at 7-3. But the Wolfpack responded with 24 unanswered points to lead 27-7 in the third, putting the Cavs in catch-up mode the rest of the afternoon.
Virginia: Perkins and Zaccheaus (nine catches, 109 yards) were tough matchups for the Wolfpack all day, but Virginia's offense struggled to get much going until after N.C. State had taken its big lead. Virginia got a late touchdown, recovered an onside kick and drove down inside the 10 before Dexter Wright batted and intercepted Perkins' pass near the goal line with 1:06 left to seal it.
N.C. State: Perhaps there are a few more playmakers ready to step forward for the Wolfpack. Person's big day - including four runs of at least a dozen yards - led N.C. State to a season-high 176 yards rushing. And Emezie had a couple of tough grabs to bail out some iffy throws by Finley, including a 39-yarder on a fleaflicker into double coverage and snatching the 16-yard TD throw in a tight window through physical coverage by Brenton Nelson at the front left pylon. It all helped N.C. State reach 4-0 for the first time since doing so in 2014 and 2015.
Virginia: The Cavaliers are off next week and host No. 16 Miami on Oct. 13.
N.C. State: Boston College has given N.C. State fits, winning the past two meetings in Raleigh. The Eagles visit the Wolfpack next Saturday.