- The Washington Times - Sunday, November 2, 2003

RALEIGH, N.C. — Philip Rivers has been a difference maker for N.C. State for four years. But teammate T.A. McLendon wasn’t too far behind the star quarterback yesterday.

Rivers won a duel between the nation’s two most accurate quarterbacks, throwing for 410 yards and four touchdowns in a 51-37 victory over Virginia. McLendon helped out considerably by making a remarkable return from knee surgery last week and rambling 38 yards with 23 seconds left for the clinching score.

Meanwhile, Matt Schaub was 41 of 55 for a school-record 393 yards and four TDs for the Cavaliers (5-4, 3-3), but his last pass was intercepted by Victor Stephens in the waning moments and it was returned 26 yards for a score.

Rivers met Schaub on the field after the game to console him.

“I told him neither one of us deserved to lose that game,” Rivers said. “He had a great game, and it ended bad for him. I told him to keep leading his team and to win out. I’m not playing him, but he’s a fun guy to play against. It’s great competition.”

The matchup of Rivers and Schaub, each with 71 percent completion rates coming in, was the highlight — but not the only factor in N.C. State’s victory.

“We were so two-dimensional today,” said Rivers, who has thrown for 400 yards five times in his illustrious career. “That’s when we’re at our best. The line may have also had their best game. I had plenty of time to throw, and T.A. had some lanes.”

McLendon, who ran for 112 yards and caught 11 passes for 104 more, broke a tackle on an inside running play for his key score after Rivers had completed three passes to move the Wolfpack (7-3, 4-2 ACC) into scoring position.

“I didn’t think I was going to play as good as I did, but it worked out for me,” said McLendon, who has missed four games this season with various injuries. “I was just tired of sitting out.”

Rivers, who was 29 of 34, became the fifth player in NCAA Division I-A history to throw for more than 12,000 yards as N.C. State won its fourth straight and improved to 6-0 at home.

“In some games when you get TV timeouts between series it’s like starting a game over again, you get a few butterflies,” Rivers said. “But this game was like a 3-hour scrimmage and you were wanting to win so bad.”

There certainly wasn’t much defense played. The score was tied 30-30 heading into the fourth quarter with both QBs already over the 300-yard mark.

“What both of them showed today was that in this stage of their careers they are too good for college football,” Virginia coach Al Groh said of Rivers and Schaub.

Each drove his team 80 yards in the fourth quarter to keep the score even with 6:29 left.

Rivers hit seldom-used Chance Moyer with a 3-yard score, and Schaub rebounded on the next series with his third TD pass to Wali Lundy on a fourth-and-1 play from the 7.

But Rivers got the ball back last and was able to pull out the win.

“Do you think No.44 is important to this team?” Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato said of McLendon. “Do you think No.17 [Rivers] is important to this football team? It’s amazing what you can do when you have a running game.”

School officials said McLendon became the first player in school history to have 100 yards rushing and receiving in a game.

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