RALEIGH, N.C. -- Virginia Tech needed one of the most impressive comebacks in school history to take the next step back from a different kind of deficit.
Tyrod Taylor threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Jarrett Boykin with 1:27 left, and the Hokies staged their biggest rally under coach Frank Beamer, rallying from 17 points down to beat No. 23 North Carolina State 41-30 on Saturday.
"I've had a lot of proud moments at Virginia Tech, a lot of good teams," Beamer said. "But I've never been prouder of a team than I am today."
Taylor finished 12 of 24 for 123 yards with three touchdown passes and rushed for 121 yards to lead the Hokies (3-2, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) back from a 17-0 deficit to their third straight victory.
He and the Hokies got their offense clicking just in time. They scored on five of their seven second-half possessions and came away with 34 points after halftime. At times, they barely resembled the team that started 0-2 and plummeted from the Top 25 with season-opening losses to Boise State and James Madison.
"If we get off to a fast start like we played in the second half," running back Darren Evans said, "we're going to be a tough team to beat."
Evans rushed for 160 yards and touchdowns covering 54 and 3 yards, and David Wilson returned a kickoff 92 yards for a score.
Russell Wilson threw for 362 yards and three touchdowns for the Wolfpack (4-1, 1-1), but was intercepted three times by Jayron Hosley. They were off to their best start since 2002 and entered as the ACC's last remaining unbeaten, but their first appearance in the national rankings since '03 likely will be a short one.
"It's football. Football has no friends," receiver Owen Spencer said. "It's a two-faced game. You're never on top the whole game. It can turn easily. You just have to maintain it. The team that can maintain it the best is the team that's going to come out and win."
Josh Czajkowski's third field goal of the day, a 42-yarder with 4:42 left, put the Wolfpack up 30-28.
But that's when Taylor led the Hokies downfield in a hurry. He hit Boykin in stride over the middle, and the receiver broke three tackles on his way to the goal line. Taylor's 2-point conversion pass was incomplete, leaving it at 34-30.
"Tyrod hit me, and it was up to me to get to the end zone," Boykin said.
NC State's Wilson heaved the ball downfield on his first offensive play after that, but Hosley picked it off with 1:02 left. Evans then powered in with 28 seconds remaining to make the score look more lopsided than it actually was.
Taylor also threw touchdown passes of 10 and 4 yards to Andre Smith and got Virginia Tech's offense rolling just in time to avoid its first ACC loss. The Hokies were frustrated after last week's offensively challenged 19-0 victory at Boston College in which they came away with just one touchdown in four trips to the red zone.
Taylor gave the Hokies their first lead with 12:24 remaining when he found Smith alone in the back of the end zone to make it 28-27.
That came after big plays from David Wilson and Evans got them back in the game. Wilson took the second-half kickoff and raced down the left sideline for the score that pulled Tech to 17-13. On the Hokies' next possession, Evans ran unimpeded through the right side for his first TD, and Taylor hit Danny Coale with the 2-point conversion. That pulled the Hokies to within three, at 24-21, midway through the third.
Spencer finished with 145 yards receiving on six catches. Jarvis Williams had four receptions for 103 yards for NC State, which rolled up 507 total yards. Russell Wilson finished with scoring passes covering 7 yards to George Bryan, 2 yards to Dean Haynes and 34 yards to Williams.
Feeding off the energy of the third-largest crowd in Carter-Finley Stadium history, the Wolfpack pounced on the Hokies early, jumping out to a 17-0 lead four plays into the second quarter. Wilson first hit Bryan at the pylon for one touchdown, then flipped a pass to Haynes for another before Czajkowski's 37-yarder.
"We just got off schedule," Spencer said. "We're not a complacent team, because we've been through the tough days. We're not satisfied with anything. Yeah, we won three straight, four straight games, but that's nothing. V-Tech's done that for the past 10 years. We just have to go out there and stay hungry."