MJ Morris made his first career collegiate start Saturday night in a primetime slot, on homecoming, and against an in-state rival. What did he do? Outdual veteran quarterback Sam Hartman, who had more yards and attempts, but the key….turnovers. Hartman threw the ball away three times, compared to zero by the true freshman from Carrollton, GA – moving the Wolfpack offense down the field more fluently than it has all season.
Morris finished the contest 18-28 for 210 yards along with three touchdowns, which all came at crucial points of the game.
After a quick three-and-out from the NC State offense to start the contest, the Wolfpack defense came up with a much-needed interception from Jakeen Harris. NC State went 8 plays and 28 yards before settling for a 33-yard Chris Dunn field goal that bounced in off the upright with 8:04 left in the first quarter. No other scoring took place in the opening stanza.
Wake missed a 34 yard FG as the second quarter opened after having the ball at the one-yard line. The Deacons would finally get on the board on their next drive as Christian Turner scored from two yards out with 10:19 left before the half to make the score 7-3 in favor of Wake Forest.
The Wake lead wouldn’t last long as the Wolfpack struck back with a six-play, 71-yard drive that ended with an MJ Morris 12-yard scoring strike to Keyon Lesane, who had two big catches on the drive – putting State ahead 10-7 with 7:39 left before the break. The offenses stayed hot as Wake came back down to retake the lead at 14-10 with 4:11 on the clock, as Sam Hartman found Taylor Morin from 24 yards out.
More came before the half as NC State found the end zone again as Morris connected with Darryl Jones from 12 yards out, making the score 17-14 with less than two minutes to go before the half. The score would remain as the Wolfpack ran the clock out.
Wake opened the second half with another three and out on offense that led to NC State taking their next drive down the field with a 15-play, 80-yard drive as Morris found Jones again for another touchdown, making the score 24-14 with just over six minutes left in the quarter.
The Deacs’ offense put together a drive over midfield that was ended with another Hartman interception on fourth down by Cyrus Fagan. The Wolfpack turned the mistake into points as Dunn connected on a 51-yard field goal, increasing their lead to 27-14 with 2:01 remaining in the third.
Wake Forest wasn’t done as they put together their best drive of the season, going 99 yards in 13 plays – capped off by Hartman finding A.T. Perry from 29 yards out to cut the NC State lead to 27-21 with 6:54 left.
NC State took the ensuing short kickoff and drove down inside the 10 before adding a 25-yard Dunn field goal with 2:54 remaining. Wake Forest would get one last chance at a comeback, but fell short on fourth down near the NC State 30-yard line to help the Wolfpack seal their 16th straight win at Carter-Finley.
The Wolfpack close out their home slate next week with a showdown against Boston College. Kickoff is at 3:30 PM.