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
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
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
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