TIM PEELER: Evans' poise leads Pack to 17-15 upset of BC
BY TIM PEELER
RALEIGH – Daniel Evans’ poise won him the starting quarterback job last week. On Saturday night, it helped the Wolfpack upset No. 20 Boston College in front of 57,583 spectators at Carter-Finley Stadium, with a stunning 38-second touchdown drive in the final minute of NC State's 2006 ACC opener.
Getting the ball with just 46 seconds remaining, thanks to a fourth-down stop by the Wolfpack defense, the sophomore from Raleigh's Broughton High School directed a five-play, 72-yard sprint, in which he completed passes of 18, 20 and 34 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in the 17-15 victory. His final fling under pressure went to junior wide receiver John Dunlap – a play that was confirmed by television replay – to score the go-ahead touchdown with 8.5 seconds to play.
Not bad for a first-time starter.
Of course, he had help from an aggressive defense, which bailed the young quarterback out after he threw a fourth-down interception with 3:00 remaining in the game. The defense, which held the ACC's top offense to just two touchdowns, stopped the Eagles on four plays, giving the ball back to Evans and the offense with one last chance for a go-ahead touchdown.
Working with no timeouts, Evans completed his first pass on the drive to tight end Anthony Hill, before stopping the clock with an incomplete pass. He then threw to Dunlap on the sidelines, a first-down play that stopped the clock.
Then Evans scrambled around on the final play, throwing a pass that ended up being a jump ball between Dunlap and Boston College defender DeJuan Tribble, the same player who had just intercepted Evans’ pass on the previous possession.
"I just put it up there and John Dunlap went up and caught it at its highest point, like the receivers are taught to do every day in practice," Evans said.
Dunlap's second career touchdown reception -- his first came from Evans last week at Southern Miss -- was the answer to a long string of prayers by the sophomore wide recevier.
"On the sidelines, I prayed, I prayed, I prayed that we would get the chance to go on the field again," Dunlap said. "When they called the play at the end of the game, I was telling myself 'I have to make this play, I have to make this play, I have to make this play, I have to make this play. I have to, for me, my teammates and my family.
"And I went up and I made it."
But Dunlap juggled the ball as he came down with it, with Tribble trying to knock it out of his hands. The replay showed he had possession of the ball as he landed, and the game officials quickly confirmed the touchdown.
"We felt pretty certain that he caught the ball," said NC State coach Chuck Amato. "And we were glad we had something go our way today; you have to have some luck to win games like that.
"But it also showed our guys won't quit."
The victory ends a two-game losing streak by the Wolfpack (2-2 overall, 1-0 ACC) and gives it a win in the ACC opener. Amato's team now has 10 days off until its next game, a Thursday night showdown with Florida State on Oct. 5. The Eagles (3-1, 1-1) lost for the first time, after winning its last two games in double-overtime.
"We've been on the edge all season with last-minute plays," Boston College coach Tom O'Brien said."This time we were on the short end. We're disappointed about the outcome."
A strong defensive effort by the Wolfpack defense kept the Eagles from rolling up many points throughout the game, and the last-minute defensive stand on a short field gave the offense an opportunity for the win.
"The defense was obviously disappointed with the way we played last week," said Amato, referring to last week's 37-17 loss at Southern Mississippi. "We talked about it and that wasn’t us. They wanted to go out and show people, and what an opportunity to play on national television.
"The defense never stopped fighting. We made some plays with our defensive backs knocking passes down. And you should have heard them in the huddle before that fourth-down play. 'They are not getting it!' And they didn't."
Earlier in the fourth quarter, senior defensive tackle Tank Tyler sacked BC quarterback Matt Ryan on consecutive plays. The first was negated by a BC holding penalty, but the second pushed the Eagles back into their own territory, forcing a long-yardage situation.
The Eagles were eventually forced to punt and the kick went into the end zone, giving the Wolfpack the ball on the 20-yard line with 4:30 remaining in the game.
Evans completed two passes on the drive, but on third down his pass attempt was batted down and on fourth down his pass was intercepted by Tribble.
On BC’s ensuing possession Brian Toal was tackled in the backfield on fourth down by linebackers Lerue Rumph and Patrick Lowery with 46.5 second remaining.
The Eagles had taken a15-10 lead when scoring specialist Toal had a 2-yard touchdown run with 12:55 remaining in the contest, his ninth career touchdown. The Eagles, after missing its first extra-point of the evening, went for two following the score, but it was not successful.
Ryan, under heavy pressure by a Rumph blitz, had to throw the ball out of the end zone on the conversion attempt, leaving the Eagles with a five-point lead.
The Wolfpack took a 10-9 lead on its second possession of the second half, when sophomore Andre Brown broke loose on the right side after a short pitch and raced 26 yards for his team’s first touchdown of the game.
The drive was set-up by a 14-yard return by sophomore Levin Neal, the punt return replacement for injured a Darrell Blackman. He brought the ball back to the Boston College 49-yard line and Evans guided the team on an eight-play, 49-yard drive by completing three consecutive passes and relying on the rushing abilities of Brown.
Boston College pinned the Wolfpack back on its own 2-yard line by downing a Ryan Ohliger punt, a play that was disputed, and challenged, by Amato. However, there was indisputable video evidence to confirm the call and State was charged with a timeout.
On the first play of the possession, sophomore Toney Baker broke free for a 17-yard gain to get the Wolfpack out of the shadow of the north end zone.
State was forced to punt on the possession following a late-hit penalty, giving the ball back to the Eagles on the NC State 45-yard line. The Eagles moved within the 30 on the rushing of tailback L.V. Whitworth, but a big defensive play prevented the Eagles from putting any more points on the board.
Junior cornerback Jimmie Sutton III made his first career interception – and forced the game’s first turnover – by picking off a Ryan pass in the end zone.
Boston College scored first in the contest, taking the opening kickoff down the field in 11 plays and scoring on a 22-yard Ryan touchdown pass to Tony Gonzalez. The drive was extended by a roughing the punter penalty on Littleton Wright. However, Ohliger’s extra point was no good as he clanked it off the left upright.
A 49-yard run by Andre Brown set up the Wolfpack’s first score, as he cut the right corner to the Boston College 29-yard line. On the next play, Toney Baker took a pitch to the right side for a 22-yard gain, setting up first-and-goal on the seven.
Senior placekicker John Deraney then booted a 29-yard field goal wigh 4:26 remaining in the first half to cut the lead to 6-3.
The Wolfpack defense stopped the Eagles on their next possession, and the Wolfpack benefited from a punt-return interference penalty when punt returner Levin Neal was hit by BC’s Larry Anam. State got the ball near mid-field, and Evans hit Brown with a 14-yard pass on first down to get the ball into Eagle territory.
On second and 20, Evans threw an 18-yard pass to senior Lamart Barrett for his first catch of the season. But the drive ended without any points on the board.
The Eagles extended its lead to 9-3 with 9:18 remaining in the second quarter scored a 29-yard field goal by Ohliger, a lead they took into halftime.
You may contact Tim Peeler at email@example.com.