Top 10 of the 2010s: No. 2, Russell being Russell

Brett Friedlander

As we come down the homestretch of the final 10 days of the 2010s, SI Wolfpack Maven takes a look back at the past 10 years in NC State sports and counts down the Wolfpack's top 10 moments of the decade.

Today is Dec. 29, 2019.

With three days remaining, it's time to check in on Moment No. 2: The signature play of Russell Wilson's three-year career at State -- a two-yard Hail Mary that beat rival North Carolina in 2010.

It was only a two-yard touchdown pass on the official scoresheet. But the miracle Russell Wilson pulled off in the final minute of the third quarter against rival North Carolina on Nov. 20, 2010 was so much more than that.

And it perfectly summed up Wilson's magical three-year career with the Wolfpack.

With State trailing 19-10 and facing a fourth-and-goal situation from the two, Wilson took the snap and rolled slightly to his right. He was immediately pressured by a Tar Heel defender. So after putting on the brakes, the elusive quarterback turned and began heading in the opposite direction.

With nowhere to go there, either, Wilson headed back to his right, giving ground the entire way. When he reached the 20-yard line, about to run out of room with three pass rushers closing in on him, he launched a desperation heave off his back foot.

The ball ball seemed to stay in the air for an eternity, long enough for several players from each team to congregate in the corner of the end zone, jockying for position as it to came back down down to Earth.

At first, it appered as though the pass would sail over everybody's head and go out of the end zone. But UNC safety Da'Norris Searcy rose up and in an ill-advised attempt to knock the pass down, sent it back in play -- and right into arms of Wolfpack recever Owen Spencer for the touchdown.

Tempers flared. A player from each team ended up being ejected. The play was disputed. But after a lengthy replay review, the touchdown stood.

Less than two minutes later, T.J. Graham returned a Tar Heel punt 87 yards for the go-ahead score that sent State on the way to a 29-25 victory -- its fourth straight win against UNC.

"It was almost like being a Hail Mary throw,” then-coach Tom O’Brien said of Wilson's game-changing play “That’s what it ended up being. It was a prayer. And it was answered.”

Top 10 NC State Sports Moments of he 2010s

No. 10: Dennis Smith Jr, and the Wolfpack upset Duke at Cameron

No. 9: State's extra inning tradition at the ACC baseball tournament

No. 8: The revitalization of Reynolds Coliseum

No. 7: Women's basketball 21-game winning streak to start 2018-19

No. 6: Swimmer Ryan Held's gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics

No. 5: Wrestler Nick Gwiazdowski's back-to-back national championships

No 4. Football star Nate Irving's remarkable comeback from a near fatal car wreck

No. 3 Basketball upset of top-seeded Villanova in 2015 NCAA tournament

No. 2 Russell Wilson's two-yard Hail Mary to beat UNC in 2010

Don't forget to check back on Sunday for moment No. 1

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