RALEIGH, N.C. — Niklas Sade's 48-yard field goal with 33 seconds left lifted North Carolina State past Richmond 23-21 on Saturday night.
N.C. State freshman Bryant Shirreffs, a 2013 Jefferson High grad, accounted for two touchdowns and Pete Thomas was 24 of 31 for 237 yards while helping the Wolfpack (2-0) rally from an 11-point deficit.
The Wolfpack took over at their own 21 with 1:59 left and Thomas led them 48 yards in seven plays.
He completed 4 of 5 passes during the drive for 31 yards — including a critical 13-yard throw to Rashard Smith at the sideline — before things stalled at the 31. Sade's kick from the right hash cleared the crossbar with ease.
Michael Strauss moved the Spiders (1-1) downfield in the final seconds, but his deep heave with no time left was batted down by Hakim Jones just short of the goal line.
Strauss finished 29 of 45 for 300 yards with two touchdowns, but the Spiders were shut out in the second half and were denied their fourth victory over an Atlantic Coast Conference team since 2006.
Shirreffs — who was forced up to No. 2 on the depth chart after starter Brandon Mitchell broke his foot in the opener — completed all three of his passes, ran 28 yards for an early touchdown and threw a 7-yard TD pass to Matt Dayes as the Wolfpack fell behind 21-10 late in the first half before rallying.
N.C. State appeared to wrest control from the Spiders by forcing two fumbles inside Richmond's 20-yard line on consecutive series in the third quarter.
The Wolfpack turned the first one into a touchdown, but gave the second one right back to the Spiders on a fumble by Shirreffs.
N.C. State defensive end Art Norman pounced on Strauss' fumble at the Richmond 8, and two plays later, Dayes took a screen pass from Shirreffs into the end zone to pull the Wolfpack to 21-20 with 7:09 left in the third.
N.C. State had a prime chance to retake the lead when Norman forced another fumble from Strauss deep in Spiders territory, but Shirreffs fumbled it right back at the Richmond 4.
Richmond — which beat Duke three times between 2006-11 — showed no fear against a Wolfpack team that was coming off a 40-14 beating of Louisiana Tech in coach Dave Doeren's debut.
The Spiders scored touchdowns on three straight possessions in the first half.
Strauss threw TD passes of 3 yards to Sam Roller and 14 yards to Stephen Barnette on consecutive series, before Jacobi Green put Richmond up 21-10 with a 7-yard touchdown run with 1:33 before the break.
Sade's second field goal of the half started the rally and pulled the Wolfpack to 21-13 with 10 seconds left.