Wilson, Irving lead NC State past No. 16 FSU 28-24

Russell Wilson threw a fourth-down touchdown pass to George

Bryan with 2:40 left to help North Carolina State rally from a big

halftime deficit and beat No. 16 Florida State 28-24 on Thursday

night.

Wilson also ran for three scores for the Wolfpack (6-2, 3-1

Atlantic Coast Conference), who trailed 21-7 at the break before

ending a three-game losing streak to the Seminoles (6-2, 4-1). With

the win, N.C. State surpassed its victory total for last season

while earning a key victory in a matchup of Atlantic Division

contenders.

Trailing 24-21, the Wolfpack drove to the FSU 1-yard line and

appeared to have a winning score within easy reach. But the

Seminoles stopped Wilson on a pair of sneaks, then stuffed James

Washington’s leap over the line on third down. The Wolfpack

appeared ready to kick a field goal, but called timeout and sent

the offense back out on the field.

This time, Wilson rolled to his right on a play-action fake,

then found Bryan alone near the back of the end zone for the 28-24

lead.

Still, Christian Ponder – who ran for a pair of scores and threw

for one – nearly rallied the Seminoles, driving Florida State all

the way to the N.C. State 4 in the final minute. But on what looked

like a play-action fake, Ponder fumbled when tailback Ty Jones

appeared to bump him as he ran by.

N.C. State linebacker Nate Irving pounced on the loose ball at

the 9 with 48 seconds left, sealing a dramatic victory in a game

that was statistically even much of the night.

It was a matchup of two of the league’s top quarterbacks in

Wilson and Ponder, but neither managed to get into rhythm throwing

the ball. Instead, both made their biggest plays with their feet to

keep their offenses moving forward.

Wilson came in leading the league at 303 yards per game, but

finished with 178 yards on 18 for 28 passing against the league’s

top scoring defense. Still, he capped the Wolfpack’s first drive

with a 1-yard keeper for a score, then followed with a 10-yard

scoring run early in the third and a 20-yard sprint up the middle

midway through the period that erased the 21-7 halftime deficit and

tied the game.

Wilson’s winning TD toss allowed him to bounce back from an

interception on a badly thrown ball around the FSU 10 early in the

fourth. The Seminoles converted that turnover into a field goal

from Dustin Hopkins for a 24-21 lead with 9:07 left.

Ponder had a similar night, throwing for 196 yards and an

11-yard touchdown to Willie Haulstead to go with a pair of rushing

scores – all in the second quarter. He also had his own critical

miscue, fumbling in a collapsing pocket deep in his own end of the

field to set up Wilson’s 20-yard score that tied the game in the

third.