Pack Blitzes Wake in 2nd Half; Wins 38-3
Nov. 13, 2010
Editor's note: Fans who attended Saturday's NC State-Wake Forest football game donated approximately 5,000 toys and a total of $23,500 in cash to the U.S. Marine Reserves Toys for Tots program. Added to the $500 Coca-Cola donated for every touchdown the Wolfpack scored this season in its first 10 games, and the program raised an all-time record of $47,500 in cash donations, which will be used in the annual shopping spree in December to purchase toys for the holidays of Triangle-area children.
BY TIM PEELER
RALEIGH, N.C. - NC State head football coach Tom O'Brien talked all week about the rare opportunity his team had Saturday against Wake Forest: a second chance to shape its fate in the ACC football race.
The Wolfpack faltered last week against Clemson, but was helped by North Carolina's win over Florida State, meaning if the Wolfpack won its final three games, it could earn the program's first trip to the ACC Championship game in Charlotte on Dec. 4.
Saturday, in front of a Homecoming crowd of 57,161, O'Brien and his charges dominated Wake Forest, scoring four second-half touchdowns to breeze by the Demon Deacons, 38-3, at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The offense was productive and efficient, getting points on its first drives of both halves, and pouring on the points on short-field, lighting-fast drives in the second half. Russell Wilson was responsible for four touchdowns, moving into second place all-time among ACC players in a statistical category that combines touchdown rushes and passes.
He's now ranked second all-time behind former NC State quarterback Philip Rivers, who set the conference standard with 112 in his four-year career.
Wilson threw two scoring passes, a 4-yarder to Jarvis Williams and a 38-yarder to Own Spencer to help the Wolfpack build a 17-3 lead in the third quarter. He then scored two touchdowns on his own, running the ball in from two and one yards.
Those scores were the finishing touches on a near-perfect day in which Wilson walked out with the Wolfpack seniors, just in case he does not return next season for his final year of eligibility. He completed 24 of 35 passes for 300 yards, with the two scoring passes and one interception. He was the also his team's leading rusher.
But it was the Wolfpack defense, led by senior co-captain Nate Irving, that turned in the most impressive performance of the afternoon, holding Wake Forest to just 188 yards of total offense, the fewest by a BCS opponent since East Carolina had just 140 yards in 2004.
Irving was devastating to the Deacon running game. He established a school record with eight tackles for loss, erasing the previous record of six set by former No. 1 overall NFL pick Mario Williams.
"He had a lot of opportunities," O'Brien said. " The key ones were there at the start of the second half, It was just a great day for Nate."
And for O'Brien's team. The victory over the intra-division rival gave the Wolfpack (7-3 overall, 4-2 ACC) its most regular-season wins since the 2003 team posted a 7-4 record prior to its Tangerine Bowl victory over Kansas.
"That's a really big deal," O'Brien said after the game. "We are still alive and have the chance to go to Charlotte. Now, we have to go on the road, and it's not an easy road."
The Wolfpack travels to Chapel Hill next Saturday, looking for its fourth consecutive victory over North Carolina. The Pack ends the regular-season at Maryland. Winning those two games would make the Wolfpack the Atlantic Division's representative in the conference title game.
"From this point forward, we have to prepare the right way and see what happens," Wilson said.
Saturday's game started field goals by both teams after drives of longer than 15 plays. The Wolfpack scored the only touchdown of the first half, after Wilson hit Jarvis Williams on a hitch-and-go pass that covered 50 yards and another 4-yard pass to Williams in the end zone.
Wake Forest played ball-control offense throughout the first half and droved the length of the field in two of its three drives in the first half. But the first time inside the Wolfpack's 5-yard line, head coach Jim Grobe settled on a field goal. The next time, near the end of the first half, Grobe had his team go for it on fourth and goal at the 2. .
After Wilson led the offense on a scoring drive to start the second half, the defense created a turnover Wake Forest's Lavell Jackson muffed a punt by NC State's Andy Leffler. NC State's Earl Wolff recovered the ball at Wake's 17 and three plays later Wilson ran the ball into the end zone.
"That turnover was really the turning play of the game," O'Brien said.
Wilson added another one-yard run early in the fourth quarter to pad his responsibility total.
Wilson left the game - perhaps his final home game for the Wolfpack - midway through the third quarter, giving way to reserve Mike Glennon with the ball on the short side of the 50-yard line.
Glennon led his team into the end zone, with James Washington scoring on a 1-yard run with 7:42 o play for the game's final score.
"Certainly, it was a good day for the seniors," O'Brien said. "It was gratifying to see the kids play as hard as they did."
You may contact Tim Peeler at firstname.lastname@example.org.