Amerson, Wolfpack fall to Vols 35-21
David Amerson flung his hands into the air in disbelief.
The first quarter of the 2012 season was not yet over, and already North Carolina State's celebrated cornerback had given up his second long touchdown pass.
It was that kind of night for the Wolfpack as Cordarrelle Patterson scored two first-quarter touchdowns - one a 41-yard catch, the second a 67-yard run - and Tennessee beat North Carolina State 35-21 on Friday in the opening game for both teams.
Amerson, who led the nation and set an Atlantic Coast Conference record with 13 interceptions in 2011, gave up the 41-yard pass from Tyler Bray to Patterson for the Vols' first touchdown in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game.
Late in the opening quarter, Amerson was burned again for a 72-yard pass from Bray to Zach Rogers.
''The first one, it was just a mental error on my part,'' Amerson said.
On Rogers' big play, Amerson said ''I was anticipating a little bit of help.''
''I mean, it was completely my fault,'' he said. ''It was a mental error and I take all the blame.''
But there was more blame to go around the N.C. State locker room.
Mike Glennon completed 27 of 46 passes for 288 yards with four interceptions and one touchdown for North Carolina State (0-1).
''I'm going to go back and look at the tape and become a better player,'' Glennon said.
Coach Tom O'Brien shifted into damage control after the loss.
''We can still win 11 games and that's what I'm going to tell these guys, but we have to iron these things out,'' O'Brien said.
''We missed a lot of tackles. That's still something we have to rectify, whether it's a matter of fatigue or whatever. ... I think they understand they can't give up the big run, the big passes. You can't turn the football over. You can correct these things. It's not like something we've got no chance of fixing.''
Bray completed 27 of 41 for 333 yards and two touchdowns without an interception.
Patterson, a 6-foot-3 wide receiver who transferred from Hutchinson (Kan.) Community College, played like a star in his Tennessee debut. Patterson had six catches for 93 yards.
Tennessee (1-0) scored 16 points on two touchdowns and a safety in a span of 38 seconds late in the first quarter.
A 20-year-old man was taken to a hospital after falling approximately 35 feet from the upper level of the Georgia Dome.
The Georgia World Congress Center Authority, which operates the downtown football stadium, said in a statement that the man fell on another fan seated in the mezzanine area.
The fan who was hit while seated was taken to a hospital.
Tennessee enjoyed a successful start to coach Derek Dooley's important third season. The Vols finished 5-7 overall and last in the Southeastern Conference's Eastern Division at 1-7 in 2011.
With N.C. State leading 7-6, Bray's long pass to Rogers started the Vols' scoring surge.
On first down for the Wolfpack, was hit by Curt Maggitt and fumbled out of the end zone for a safety.
Patterson ran 67 yards on Tennessee's next play, first running left and then crossing the field to his right for his second touchdown.
The Wolfpack answered with a 67-yard drive capped by James Washington's 2-yard run. Washington hit the line, remained on his feet and bounced into the end zone for the only touchdown of the second quarter.
The Vols were denied a touchdown late in the first half when a review confirmed the officials' ruling that Bray fumbled when he reached the ball across the line while trying to score. N.C. State linebacker Rickey Dowdy recovered the fumble, despite the protests from Tennessee fans and players.
The Wolfpack tried to rally in the final quarter. Bryan Underwood made a leaping, 5-yard touchdown catch from Glennon, but the senior quarterback threw his third interception later in the quarter.
Parlardy added a 35-yard field goal in the fourth quarter.
Marlin Lane led the Vols with 75 yards rushing on nine carries. Neal was the workhorse with 22 carries for 53 yards.
Glennon's fourth interception came with 5 seconds left as he threw deep into the end zone.
Attendance was 55,529, about 17,000 below a sellout.