RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State's offense sputtered, then lost the preseason Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year while facing a second-half deficit.
For Devan Boykin, that meant the defense would have to drive the 14th-ranked Wolfpack to its comeback Saturday night.
"After halftime," he said, "we knew that the game was going to be on us."
Boykin picked off Jordan Travis' pass in the end zone with 38 seconds left, lifting N.C. State past Florida State 19-17 despite losing quarterback Devin Leary to injury.
Boykin's clean catch in the end zone was the clinching play on a big — and gritty — performance by the Wolfpack's veteran defense after halftime. N.C. State held Florida State (4-2, 2-2) to 93 yards after the break, helping the Wolfpack rally from a 17-3 halftime deficit.
Christopher Dunn also kicked four field goals, including a 53-yarder early in the fourth and the go-ahead 27-yard score with 6:33 left.
The Wolfpack needed every bit of it, too, considering how daunting things looked when Leary went down late in the third. He was hit while trying to throw and suffered an injury to his right arm or shoulder, returning later to the sideline with his arm in a sling. That forced backup Jack Chambers into duty for an offense that was fighting for most of its gains even with Leary in the game.
"This team doesn't quit," Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. "They don't flinch."
Travis and the Seminoles found success before halftime with multiple chunk gains, including a 71-yard keeper by Travis that set up a quick touchdown drive.
But Travis threw interceptions on each of the Seminoles' last two drives, one into traffic near midfield with about 6 1/2 minutes left and the other when he lofted the ball for Mycah Pittman after the Seminoles had driven to the 23 needing a field goal for the lead.
"We made a lot of mistakes there in the second half that we've got to be able to overcome," Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. "And it's everybody. I just told the team: that outcome is 100% on me."