2000 Micronpc.com Bowl Recap
NC State 38, Minnesota 30
Heading into the 2000 Micronpc.com Bowl, prognositcators specualted the NC State-Minnesota game would be an offensive dispaly. They were right.
After trailing 24-0 midway through the second quarter, the Pack, which had recorded comeback victories over Arkansas State, Indiana, Georgia Tech and Wake Forest during the regular season, saved its best for last and rallied rallying to beat the Golden Gophers, 38-30.
Bowl MVP Philip Rivers capped a remarkable freshman season by completing 24-of-39 passes for 310 yards and two touchdowns. He did most of his damage in the second half, passing for 246 yards after the intermission. As usual, Rivers' favorite target was big-play receiver Koren Robinson, who made seven grabs for 157 yards and one score.
After spotting Minnesota the 24-point lead with just over seven minutes to play in the opening half, NC State went on to score 25 unanswered points. The rally started late in the first half when Rivers hit tight end Andy Vanderveer with a two yard touchdown pass with exactly two minutes left in the half. Rivers then connected with tailback Ray Robinson on a two-point conversion to cut the deficit to, 24-8.
A big game-turning play occurred early in the third period when NC State cornerback Brian Williams blocked a Gophers' punt to give the Pack possession at the Minnesota 19.
It took NC State virtually no time to capitalize on the blocked punt. One play later, Koren Robinson took a hand-off from Rivers on a reverse and jetted his way down the right sideline for a 19-yard score. The Wolfpack then came back with yet another two-point conversion on a Rivers to Eric Leak pass.
After Kent Passingham's 37-yard field goal had pulled the Pack within three points, NC State grabbed the lead for the first time all night when Ray Robinson bulled his way in from the three. The key play in the 73-yard drive was a 30-yard pass from Rivers to Leak. Although another two-point try failed, NC State had a 25-24 lead and all of the momentum.
But even after seeing its 24-point lead evaporate, Minnesota kept fighting. Led by the running of sturdy tailback Tellis Redmon, who set a Micronpc.com Bowl record by rushing for 246 yards on 42 carries, the Gophers managed to retake the lead at 27-25 on a 23-yard field goal by Dan Nystrom with 11:57 left in the game.
But just 56 seconds later, NC State was back in the end zone and back on top. The Wolfpack took over at the Minnesota 48 yard line after a personal foul penalty had forced the Gophers to kickoff from their own 20. The Pack covered those 48 yards in just four plays as Rivers hit Robinson from 23-yards out on a fade pattern to put NC State back in front 31-27. The margin stayed at four as yet another two-point attempt failed.
With just over three minutes to play, an NC State defense which had been shredded by Redmon all night, finally made a big play. Minnesota quarterback Travis Cole, attempting a quarterback draw, had the ball stripped out of his hands by Wolfpack defensive tackle Ricky Fowler. Linebacker Corey Lyons' recovery left the Pack with first and goal from the eight. When Ray Robinson darted into the end zone on the very next play, NC State was up 38-30 with 3:16 left. Senior linebacker Clayton White sealed the victory with an interception on Minnesota's last drive.
The Wolfpack won despite being outgained by Minnesota 502 yards to 419. With Redmon doing most of the damage, the Gophers finished the game with 300 yards on the ground.
MINN Redmon 12 run (Nystrom kick)