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Florida State tops N.C. State 26-17

Posted October 16, 2008
Updated October 17, 2008

— N.C. State suffered its third straight ACC loss Thursday night, falling 26-17 to Florida State despite showing improvement in areas like the defensive front.

“Our mantra all week was, 'Play hard, get to the line and go,'” quarterback Russell Wilson said. “You believe in your defense. They work hard and fluke things happen. We just have to step up and keep pushing.”

Junior defensive end Willie Young finished with three sacks, but his performance wasn't enough as the Pack fell to 2-5 overall.

“Each one of those sacks was great. It put us in great position to make the stop,” freshman linebacker Dwayne Maddox said. “We were amped up and ready to play, but we just couldn’t pull it out.”

Young, a 6-foot-4 defensive end, rejuvenated a Wolfpack defense that had been allowing an average of 549 yards and 39.5 points in their last two games. The team’s defense would slowly deteriorate, though, with Florida State remaining on offense for a total of 37:46, the greatest amount of time for any Pack opponent this season.

Meanwhile, State converted just one of nine third downs.

“It came down to third downs,” coach Tom O’Brien said. “We had to stay on the field and we couldn’t. I think it’s the third week in a row that we’re playing more defense than we are offense. We have to get back to the drawing board.”

Florida State had 392 yards Thursday and 15 fewer penalty yards than O’Brien’s squad.

On the opening drive, Young, a native of Riviera Beach, Fla., recorded a sack on Seminoles quarterback Christian Ponder. In addition to Young, redshirt junior Alan-Michael Cash, back from knee surgery, forced Florida State to punt after recording a sack of his own.

“It gave me a lot of confidence after I had the sack,” Cash said. “I felt like I could do anything I wanted to in that game. I feel renewed.”

Cash wasn’t the only returning player dealing with a lingering injury in Raleigh. After coming back for a few snaps, redshirt sophomore linebacker Nate Irving limped off of the field in the second quarter with an ankle injury. After that, FSU took advantage of Maddox’s youth, running and dumping off short passes to his side of the field.

“They’re going to try to target the young guy on the field. That’s what everybody tries to do,” Maddox said. “I just tried to go out there, stick to the game plan and react like it’s my everyday job.”

On offense, State’s running game looked unstoppable, posting three consecutive first-down sprints in the first three plays from scrimmage. Then, after an incomplete pass intended for Jarvis Williams on third and 4, Josh Czajkowski booted the ball through the uprights to put State ahead 3-0.

State finished with a combined rushing game of 157 yards, its best since last season’s game against UNC.

“Jamelle [Eugene] had a great night running for us,” O’Brien said. “If we could get just the ball going more, we could control the
clock better.”

Early in the second quarter, Wilson found tight end Anthony Hill on a 20-yard touchdown pass to put the Pack up 10-0. FSU answered with Graham Gano’s 37-yard field goal for on the very next drive.

Meanwhile, FSU’s Ponder continued to scramble for short gains against the Wolfpack defense.

“[Ponder] is quick and can really run,” O’Brien said. “He shouldn’t have affected the game the way he did, though.”

Wide receiver Corey Surrency lit up the Wolfpack secondary as the Seminoles drove down the field and connected on another field goal to close out at halftime 10-6.

Florida State set up shop in the third quarter after N.C. State was forced to punt it away, and the Seminoles scored six plays later off of a 27-yard touchdown run by Antone Smith.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, Wilson found Owen Spencer deep in the Seminoles' territory to tack on a 67-yard touchdown reception, putting the Pack ahead 17-13. The reception was the longest of both Wilson's and Spencer’s careers.

“It was amazing. We run that play in practice a lot, but it’s hard to stop the other team when they’re executing as well,” Spencer said. “You feel down as an individual when you lose a game, but at the same time, you have to keep your head up. That’s a big part of this team.”

Shortly thereafter, Ponder connected with Bert Reed for yet another FSU score and followed that up with another Gano field goal.

“One of the keys is getting out of the half and stopping them, O’Brien said. “You never know when you can put three more points on the board.”

Gano would total four field goals on the night, including a 53-yarder to close out the fourth quarter.

30 Comments

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  • PACKFAN08 Oct 20, 12:35 p.m.

    I think I heard Chuck Amato also took credit for the halftime fireworks.

  • heels4life05 Oct 18, 11:39 p.m.

    It was nice seeing Chuck Amato again.

  • goheels_15 Oct 18, 10:39 a.m.

    whew..i need some gatorade and a towel after reading redpacks comment. man, i'm sweating.

  • redpack27 Oct 17, 4:56 p.m.

    why are nc states' corners so soft? d. morgan and j. gray dont seem to have the talent or skill to play at this level. they gave greg carr and fsu receivers a 7 to 9 yrd cushion practially the entire game. and as they are in coverage, they dont even turn to find the ball as the receiver is looking the ball into his hands. icabod crane and bc last week made them look like middle schoolers. how stupid is anthony hill? a 15 yard personal foul as your offense is having a successful drive late in the game? thats our senior leader? OMG!! amazing how a brief conversation by b. bowden with a ref at halftime can have such an impact on their officiating in the second half. flags thrown on no penalties and no calls on obvious ones. how can a dropped pass that bounced off the turf into an fsu receivers hands be ruled a completion? defense couldnt make a play when needed and get off the field and rest. ponder was very effective, and deceptive, when he needed to be. no turnovers by either side. great punting by b. pierson. why cant four/five coverage guys standing at the ONE yard line down a ball bouncing between them and the FIVE? unbelievable! i m out...

  • tomo69 Oct 17, 4:21 p.m.

    heelsfan19, as for your question, I think the decision to go for it on 4 and 14 was acceptable considering the situation. Yeah, we could have punted, maybe held and most likely got the ball back at about the same location on the field down by only 1 possession, but with only 2 minutes left to score. And that would be IF the defense was able to pull a 3 and out, which I hate to say is highly improbable with State's defense in a late game situation (not impossible, though, since they actually did it to force the long field goal). It's easy to coach on hindsight, but that's never an option during the game.

  • tomo69 Oct 17, 3:49 p.m.

    Dude, I didn't say UNC beat a superior State team, I said UNC beat "heavily favored" State teams. My point is that nobody knows what's going to happen when the game is played. We've been told about our "assured beat downs" each and every week from the fans of the respective schools, and the only sure enough NCSU beat down I've seen was to South Florida (i.e. outplayed from opening kickoff to final horn).

    If you want to come on here AFTER the game and talk about the beat down UNC gave State, so be it. But don't do it before they've even hit the field. How many Maryland fans you think were probably talking about the beat down they were going to lay on UVA?

  • grayboomerang Oct 17, 3:01 p.m.

    I'm not blaming the refs...I said in my OP that State may have very well lost anyway...HOWEVER, I think it is pathetic that Coach K, Bobby Bowden or any other coach can whine to a referee and then get calls going their way. Really, why even have referees...if you are going to run a game in this manner, then just have the coaches call the game..that's how pathetic I think this practice is.

  • heelsfan19 Oct 17, 12:08 p.m.

    Seriously, I think Bowden graduated from the Coach K school of "How to Work the Refs".

  • cutclifferules Oct 17, 11:51 a.m.

    Just curious how everyone felt about OB's decision to go for it on 4th and 17 (I think) on the... View More

    — Posted by heelsfan19

    I guess O'Sendek thought his defense was too tired. That kid almost came up with the pass on 3rd down. And in the first quarter, Wilson threw a perfect pass in the end zone that was dropped. It's a game of inches, for sure.

    And someone said earlier that they could remember a lot of games when UNC beat a superior State team, so "anything can happen [in the UNC/State game this year]". Sorry dude, but O'Cain and Amato screwing up repeatedly does not apply to the assured beat-down you guys are gonna get in Chapel Hill next month.

  • heelsfan19 Oct 17, 11:16 a.m.

    Just curious how everyone felt about OB's decision to go for it on 4th and 17 (I think) on the last drive? Objectively, I think that was a horrible decision. He should have punted, held them (no chance to kick the field goal) have them punt, and get better field position to possibly go down and score 7.

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