After winning two straight squeakers, Georgia Tech avoided another tense ending Saturday.
Joe Hamilton passed for 212 yards and three touchdowns and added 83 yards on the ground before sitting out the final quarter as the No. 7 Yellow Jackets cruised past North Carolina State 48-21.
"It was a fun day," Hamilton said. "We established ourselves early as a team. Before today, we weren't able to finish teams off."
Hamilton's scoring passes covered 11 and 39 yards to Kelly Campbell and 3 yards to Kerry Watkins. Campbell also scored on a 17-yard run as Tech (6-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) won its fifth straight.
"Chemistry-wise, they finally started playing the way they're supposed to play," Tech coach Georgia O'Leary said. "You could see that coming off the open date we improved in a lot of areas."
Hamilton was the key for the Jackets.
"Joe played fantastically, just like he has done all season long and like he did last year," said N.C. State coach Mike O'Cain. "I said coming into today's game he is a great quarterback and he did nothing today to change my opinion of him. He is a great player."
Sean Gregory rushed for 116 yards on 21 carries, including a 2-yard scoring run on Tech's second possession of the game. Tech's other touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Sidney Ford. Luke Monget kicked field goals of 49 and 34 yards.
Hamilton's three scoring passes gave him 53 for his career, breaking the Tech record of 51 set by Shawn Jones from 1989-1992.
Jamie Barnette accounted for two touchdowns for the Wolfpack (5-4, 2-4), an 80-yard pass to Koren Robinson that cut Tech's lead to 14-7 in the second quarter and a 10-yard run on a broken play in the third.
Barnette's TD pass to Robinson was his 57th, tying the ACC career record set by Danny Kanell of Forida State from 1992-95.
Wolfpack reserves scored with 1:53 remaining on a 20-yard pass from Jatavis Sanders to Cotra Jackson, who made a juggling catch in the end zone. Sanders set up the score with a 60-yard completion to Robinson.
"Offensively, we could never get in sync," O'Cain said. "Wenever seemed to get our feet on the ground offensively."
Tech, coming off an open date, appeared ready from the start. Hamilton moved his team from its 10 to the State 42 before unloading a long pass to the end zone that was picked off by State's Lloyd Harrison.
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