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Defense, Wilson power Pack past Yellow Jackets

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N.C. State's Jeff Rieskamp (99), Terrell Manning (35) and David Akinniyi (97) stop Georgia Tech's Joshua Nesbitt (9). ETHAN HYMAN -

ATLANTA – Facing its biggest challenge yet, N.C. State’s defense never flinched this afternoon.

Georgia Tech’s flexbone offense was averaging 32 points per game, but was held scoreless for the first 27 minutes. Terrell Manning and David Akinniyi recovered fumbles, and Russell Wilson threw for a career-high 368 yards as N.C. State won 45-28 at Bobby Dodd Stadium, improving to 4-0 for the first time since 2002.

N.C. State’s defense, which allowed 31.2 points per game last season, entered the game allowing an average of 15.7 this season, but faced spread offenses in its first three games.

Playing against Georgia Tech and the triple option largely took away the ability to blitz that had carried N.C. State in its first three games. Forced to play assignment football, though, the Wolfpack continued to shine.

The Yellow Jackets managed just seven first downs over the first three quarters, and quarterback Joshua Nesbitt didn’t complete a pass until late in the third quarter as N.C. State built a 31-14 lead.

Jerrard Tarrant returned Wilson’s first interception of the season 33 yards for a score as Georgia Tech cut the lead to 31-28 with 12:05 remaining. But Wilson answered with a 23-yard scoring pass to T.J. Graham on third-and-11.

Down 10 with 8:31 left, a Georgia Tech offense built for the run rather than the pass didn’t have the ability to come back.

Aside from the interception by Tarrant, Wilson had a nearly flawless performance. He was 28-for-41, threw for three touchdowns and ran 6 yards for another score. He eclipsed his previous career high for passing yards of 349, set last season at Florida State.

Georgia Tech’s only score of the first half came on an 80-yard drive that culminated in a 10-yard touchdown run by Owen Smith late in the second quarter.

Aside from that drive, Georgia Tech managed just 57 yards on 22 plays before halftime..

N.C. State posted a 265-137 yardage advantage but had only a 10-point lead to show for it because of the Wolfpack’s failures in scoring position. On its first three trips inside the Georgia Tech 20-yard line, N.C. State’s offense managed only a 36-yard field goal from Josh Czajkowski, who missed two 31-yard attempts.

Wolfpack sophomore Asa Watson blocked a punt that Jarvis Williams grabbed at the 1-yard line and carried into the end zone for the game’s first score. After Smith cut the Wolfpack lead to 10-7, Wilson directed a 69-yard scoring drive.

Steven Howard kept a toe in bounds for a 21-yard touchdown catch from Wilson 22 seconds before halftime, and the Wolfpack went to the locker room ahead 10 points.

Wilson was 16-for-23 for 219 yards passing in the first half, but was sacked three times.

Georgia Tech quarterback Joshua Nesbitt ran 61 yards on the opening play of the second half to set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Roddy Jones, and the Yellow Jackets trailed just 17-14. But Wilson answered by going 5-for-5 for 60 yards, hitting Williams for 5 yards and a touchdown and running 6 yards for another score and a 31-14 advantage.

N.C. State, which has struggled in the fourth quarter all season, let Georgia Tech right back in the game. Four Wolfpack defenders missed tackles on a 50-yard Nesbitt pass to fullback Anthony Allen. Two plays later, Tyler Melton caught a 32-yard scoring pass from Nesbitt on a mix-up in the N.C. State secondary.

On N.C. State’s next drive, Wilson threw his first interception of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Jerrard Tarrant grabbed Wilson’s floating pass and returned 33 yards for a touchdown. Suddenly, N.C. State led just 31-28.

But Wilson lofted a pass that Graham grabbed in the end zone with 8:31 remaining, and the Wolfpack survived.



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It's the PACK...expect the

It's the PACK...expect the unexpected.

It really doesn't matter what the casual or fanatical "observer" might believe. Can NCSU handle prosperity? This is a different team and a proven, resilient coaching staff. The past can't always accurately fortell the future. The Pack is responding to adversity and playing through its games this year...closing games out.

The largest impact I've witnessed comes in the form of forced turnovers this year from Archer and Tenuta's revamped D. Add this to the slippery, wiley play of RW- and all of his offensive weapons and you realize there are good opportunities for the WP for the rest of this young's not just mere speculation at this point. Karma is also fueled by momentum.

The biggest ?? is the WP kicking game. Two missed field goals at 31 yards? Points left on the field again. The punter is not impressive at all either. Special teams seems to be VT's specialty and usually gives them the edge.

Good points about the

Good points about the kicking game, however the other aspects of special teams for the WP have been quite impressive.

Yep Pack 33+ minutes to GT

Yep Pack 33+ minutes to GT 26+ TOP

Incredible win today for the

Incredible win today for the Pack.  Many will argue that this is the biggest win of the TOB era so far, and it would be hard to disagree (personally, I still think 41-10 in CH is the biggest win so far).

Next week will be a challenge, but dare I say, can State actually contend for an ACC title this year?!?  *knock on wood*.  There are three big reasons why I think the answer is yes:

1)  One of the most potent offenses around, which we already knew about before the season.

2)  A drastically improved defense this year;  more experience, the return of Irving, and the hiring of Tenuta have really given this defense a 180 degree turnaround.

3)  Leadership.  If there was one thing that really impressed me today, it was the way NC State's offense was able to respond to GT over and over again.  It seemed like every time GT got some momentum going, State just marched right down the field and put up a score.  The key to this game was Wilson and company's ability to come back right after a pick-6, and score a TD to go back up by 10.  GT seemingly had ALL the momentum at that point in time, but the pressure meant absolutely nothing to State's veteran offense.

In-freakin'-credible!!!  Way to go Pack!  :)

A Solid Win

This was a good solid win, no cheating required. Love the Pack.
Big Time football without the Big Time problems.

  Great Pack win. Defense


Great Pack win. Defense hung in there and the secondary did a pretty good job. Only got burned once but came up with some sensational cover plays. RW is only continuing to improve if that is possible. Play calling in the early 4th was a little one dimensional, but they got back to putting ball in Greene's hands which sealed the deal. Congratulations Pack on being 4-0 with more good things to come. more later.

I am glad they listened to me and did everything I said. LOL.


Thanks, 098 - now VaT

Must have been some good advice. Tell us what you have for VaT now. Don't hurry. Give it a little thought.

One of the biggest W's in recent years. I don't have to hold my breath now. This team is for real.  Now looks like a matter of WHICH bowl.  Ahhhhh!

I'm also very happy for coach Tom. I dread firing and hiring.  4 of 5 don't work out, so if a coaching hire works out, count your blessings.

Dick Sheridan, hired back in '83(?) was the last coach my alma mater didn't fire. He's the only one hired since Bo Rein (hired 78?) that hasn't been fired. 33 years and 5 coaches!

Imagine... if Sheridan could have been happy in coaching, he would be in his 28th (+/-) year.  He was a good coach. How good he could have been, we'll never know. Might be a living legend now. He had it all.  But he made a decision that was best for him, and i'm very glad he came to Raleigh. He revived my Wolfpack football fanatacism. Just wish he could have stuck around.  I admire him for keeping his priorities in order. Thanks, Dick Sheridan.

Tom O'B reminds me of Sheridan in some ways.

I haven't looked at the

I haven't looked at the stats but my main advice was to control the time of possession and I think State did that. Also to have a balanced offensive attack with the ball in Mustafa's hands as much as possible. The secondary had to avoid getting burned on the big play and that happened once but the defense overall played excellently. Congrats.

As for Vt. I don't think their defense is as good as they have been in past years. I don't think they will be able to contain Wilson. IF the offense can continue to improve, which is scary,they should be able to control the game. I think a return to the aggressive type of defense present in the Cincy game will work against Vt. They are not an overwhelmingly potent offensive team

I did manage to watch the second half of the State game. I am so impressed with the improvement on this team. We knew States offense would be one of the best in the league but they are setting themselves up to be the team to beat in the ACC. As I predicted earlier State will beat VT. If that happens they have a legitimate chance to capture the ACC title. I have now revised my prediction of a 7-5 season to a 9-3 or 11-1 season. Guess which is the loss. LOL.

this is fun

Despite a few scary moments, this was a terrific win for the Pack.

The good:

  1. An offense that is operating on all cylinders.
  2. Much improved running game, aided by an improving O-Line.
  3. Hardly any dropped passes (I can remember only one). Numerous outstanding catches.
  4. Good comeback by Dean Haynes. Glad he was given a chance to atone for last week's fumbles.
  5. Excellent performance by the defense overall.
  6. Love to see the blocked punt and the general energy and enthusiasm shown on the kicking side of the special teams.
  7. Good job limiting the penalties and turnovers. 

The not-so-good:

  1. Uncharacteristic mistake by RW on the interception. That was dumb and could have been deadly, except that Russell was just plain outstanding otherwise.
  2. What was up with Czajkowski? Hopefully, it was a one game problem, because State dodged a bullet today.
  3. The defense still is too susceptible to the big play. They are lucky it hasn't cost them yet, but they have to get this fixed or, eventually, it will.
  4. Missed tackles. Not as bad as last year, but still too many. I will give the Ga Tech running backs some credit though. They are a load.

Still, the Pack has the look of a solid team that will just get better if they can avoid injuries to key players. Looking forward to next weeks test against Va Tech.


on the big play thing.

On that one pass-play for a TD, the safeties bit, not a big deal, GT does that, lulls you to sleep with all those running plays.

And the few long runs, not a big deal, there's no way a D can maintain focus for every snap on all their reads in an option attack.  If Akinniyi kept his assignment it would have been a 1 yrd loss easy but he bit on the dive.  What was impressive was Wolfe preventing the TD and had it not been for that awesome pitch we may have held them to a FG after being on the 2.

Fair enough

GT does deserve some credit.

One other good thing-State's D plays to the whistle. When GT got out into the open field, State's defenders were still pursuing. Great to watch.


did not mean to overlook the rest of your post but it was a great analysis i think.

Kenny style

As I sit by the pool with my upteenth Cerveza, congrats to the Pack. 4-0 and a lot of promise is something I wish the Pirates and Heels had.

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About the blogger

Ken Tysiac has covered the ACC for The Charlotte Observer since 2003, and spent the previous eight years covering Clemson for the Anderson Independent-Mail and then The State in South Carolina. He grew up in Rochester, N.Y., and is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.