Entering Saturday’s game, North Carolina State had lost their last six games in Winston-Salem dating back to 2001 and only won one in their last nine trips to Wake Forest. All of that came to an abrupt end as NC State (5-2,1-2 ACC) used an explosive first quarter to defeat Wake Forest (3-5,1-4 ACC) 35-17, as the Wolfpack earned their first conference win of the season.
The Wolfpack’s four offensive scoring plays would come in the first quarter via ground and air attacks. NC State’s scoring drives, if you can call them that, happened at a breakneck pace – four scoring drives were a combined nine plays that took two minutes and 45 seconds.
Jacoby Brissett would get the action started with a 59 yard touchdown toss to Maurice Trowell, followed by a Matt Dayes 85 yard jaunt to the end zone on the ensuing drive. The Wolfpack were up 14-0 before the fans at BB&T Field could get comfortable in their seats. Brissett would connect with freshman Nyheim Hines on NC State’s next possession for a 58 yard touchdown strike on the first play of the drive. Dayes would score the final offensive touchdown in the first quarter with 57 yard touchdown scamper. At the end of the first quarter, NC State held a commanding 28-0 lead.
All of the Wolfpacks scores in the first quarter were of the big play variety. Each touchdown covered at least 57 yards: 59, 85, 58, and 57 yards respectively.
From the second quarter on, the Wolfpack couldn’t generate much on offense. The last eight possessions of the game saw NC State sputter to the finish line. The Wolfpack had five punts, two missed field goals, and one turnover on downs to end the game.
Matt Daye’s absence in the running game in the second half was a head scratcher, as the Wolfpack struggled to find any momentum offensively. Dayes didn’t get his first carry of the second half until 1:15 in the third quarter.
Wake Forest’s defense managed to find its pride in the second quarter after giving up 322 yards in the first. The Demon Deacons managed to look like a viable FBS team the rest of the way after their horrendous start. Quarterback Kendall Hinton was able to break free on a 69 yard touchdown run in the second quarter to pull Wake to within 28-7. Wake’s offense would add 10 points in the second half to make the game respectable.
Cause for concern
- NC State found themselves susceptible to the big play, again. Hinton’s 69 yard touchdown run gave an otherwise hopeless Demon Deacons team some life. Moving forward in Atlantic Division play, the Wolfpack have to limit the big plays against explosive teams like Clemson, Florida State, and the University of North Carolina.
- It may not be the sexy topic, but NC State has to get better in the place kicking game. Kyle Bambard missed two field goals against Wake Forest, and is 3-for-8 on the season.
- The Wolfpack were on fire in the first quarter, totalling 322 yards. The rest of the way they only mustered 153 yards. The last three games, all against ACC opponents, have show kinks in the once flashy NC State offensive armor. Saturday’s game against Wake Forest was a microcosm of the way their conference games have gone. If the Wolfpack want to contend for a conference crown they’re going to have to play four quarters of football.
- The rushing of Dayes, 16 carries for 205 yards and two touchdowns. When the Wolfpack went away from him things didn’t go smooth at all. When they started implementing him back into the gameplan the offense picked up.
- Defense, defense, defense! When the offense went on hiatus, the defense kept their hard hats on and battled on every play. The Wolfpack’s defense had eight sacks on the day, forced five three-and-outs, and applied constant pressure to Wake’s quarterbacks. Of the Demon Deacons’ 14 drives, nine ended with a punt. Leading the charge were Mike Rose with three sacks and Darian Roseboro with two sacks. Safety Hakim Jones got in on the action with an interception in the first quarter.
Halloween night, No. 6 Clemson (7-0, 3-0 ACC) rolls into Carter-Finley Stadium. The Tigers rolled up Miami 58-0 Saturday, and are coming to Raleigh with bad intentions. This is a game NC State will definitely be up for, but the talented Mr. Deshaun Watson, running back Wayne Gallman, and wide receiver Artavis Scott will have their full set of skills ready to display. Did I mention the Tigers’ defense, which is giving up a stingy 14.7 points per game (14th in the nation.) If the Wolfpack can pressure Watson like they did Wake Forest, and if Brissett and Dayes can combine for another balanced game from start to finish, NC State will have a chance to upset Clemson.