Wilson Leads Pack to 23-7 Victory Over WVU
Winning the turnover battle is key to winning football games. NC State didn't let a golden opportunity pass by and turned five West Virginia turnovers into a 23-7 victory.
The win marked the 100th of Tom O'Brien's 14-year career as a head coach.
"We're excited about the opportunity to win this football game," said O'Brien. "West Virginia is a great team. Getting the ninth win I think is huge for this program."
The nine wins ties as the second-highest total in school history.
The defense maybe saved its best game for last. The entire unit played like they had something to prove and was flying all over the field. According to Nate Irving though, they just went out and had fun.
"I don't think it really was about proving the nation wrong," said Irving. "We were more focused on coming out and doing what we can do, play hard, tough football."
Going against one of the top defenses in the country, Russell Wilson led the attack, finishing 28 of 45 for 275 and two touchdowns. With his performance, Wilson was named the Champs Sports Bowl MVP. It marked the first time this year that the Mountaineers allowed 21 or more points.
After stalling on the first series, the Wolfpack drove right down the field to take a lead that was never relinquished. Wilson was five of seven for 79 yards and added one run of seven yards to account for all 86 yards. He capped it off with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Mustafa Greene to put the Pack in front 7-0.
During most of the first half, the Pack did a good job of keeping Mountaineer's quarterback Geno Smith in check. After having defenders in his face play after play, Smith was finally able to break containment, throwing a 32-yard touchdown pass to Stedman Bailey, who was well covered by David Amerson.
The Pack responded when T.J. Graham returned the ensuing kickoff 46 yards to the Mountaineer's 48-yard line. Wilson was able to get the offense to the 28-yard line before settling for a 45-yard field goal by Josh Czajkowski to give the Pack a 10-7 lead heading into the half.
The Pack punted on the first possession in the second half, but the Mountaineers turned the ball right back over when David Akinniyi recovered a botched exchange between Smith and Tavon Austin. Getting to fourth and inches, O'Brien was prepared to go for the first down, but the Pack was called for a false start. Czajkowski came through though and extended the lead to 13-7 with a 38-yard field goal.
West Virginia faced its own fourth down play at the Pack's 34-yard line on the following drive, but failed to convert.
Wilson guided the Pack to within field goal range again where Czajkowski connected on a 40-yarder to make the game 16-7. With his third field goal of the game, Czajkowski tied Groza Award winner Marc Primanti with 20 field goals in a season.
The next few possessions, both teams had missed opportunities and couldn't convert drives into points. However, all of that changed when Jock Sanders muffed a punt which Taylor Gentry recovered at West Virginia's own seven-yard line.
Orlando native Jarvis Williams, who played his high school games at the Citrus Bowl, capped off the night with a seven-yard touchdown reception.
For Williams, it was a storybook ending to end his final game in a Wolfpack uniform with a touchdown in his hometown.
"It was very exciting," said Williams. "I've worked hard to get to this point and it couldn't have ended any better for me."