Against one of the more porous defenses in the ACC, the running game simply couldnt find its footing on Thursday night. Reggie Gallaspy and Ricky Person combined for 20 carries for 49 yards on the night, with neither punching in a rushing touchdown for the first time all season. Wake ended the night with 11 tackles for loss — only one coming on a sack.
While it was not a good night overall for the running backs, it was hard to find any room due to the lack of push from NC States offensive line. The duo of backs were regularly met at or behind the line of scrimmage on nearly rushing down as both Gallaspy and Person struggled to ever get to the edge against Wakes defensive line.
Share Share Louisville mens soccer takes down No. 1 Wake Forest in ACC semis tweet share Reddit Pocket Flipboard Email Via @UofLmenssoccer The U of L mens soccer team got an overtime goal from Elijah Amo in the 98th minute to pull off a 2-1 upset of No. 1 Wake Forest in the ACC tournament semifinals Wednesday night.
NC State finished with a total of 47 rushing yards due to -3 yards from Ryan Finley on the night. That lack of balance was clearly an issue all night for NC State as the passing game had to carry the offense — which has not been a recipe for success in ACC play thus far for the Pack.
Nearly one year ago, Emeka Emezie sat in the corner of the end zone in Winston-Salem wiping tears from his eyes as he stared at the exact spot where he fumbled what might have been a game-winning touchdown against Wake Forest. On Saturday, he ran free in the fourth quarter for a 35-yard touchdown to answer Wakes first touchdown of the game and give the Wolfpack another 10-point lead.
It was a huge night all around for the NC State receivers with Kelvin Harmon going for a career-high 15 receptions he turned into more than 100 yards for the fifth time this season. However, drops also plagued the Pack with C.J. Riley, Cary Angeline and Emezie all dropping catchable passes from Finley — with Angeline dropping a touchdown.
Regardless of how well Emezie played, he and the Wolfpack still come away with a sour taste in their mouths after yet another crushing loss to the Deacs. The loss is yet another that leaves the Wolfpack thinking of what might have been with a chance to piece together a special season crushed under the lights against Wake.
This is a positive and negative takeaway — but well start with the positive. Chris Dunn had a second straight game with three or more field goals, something that should be seen as a huge upgrade from previous seasons. Dunn is now 17-of-20 on the season and tied for the sixth most field goals in a single season in program history.
However, Dunn should have never kicked three field goals on the night with NC State reaching the red zone five times and coming away with one touchdown. The Wolfpack cant afford to have drives stall in the red zone moving forward with the amount of offensive weapons it has at its disposal.
NC State has reached tremendous heights as a program here in the last two years, solidifying and affirming the plan that Dave Doeren put in place for the program when he arrived from Northern Illinois in 2013. The Wolfpack entered Thursday nights game against rival Wake Forest at 6-2 with a No. 14 ranking from the College Football Playoff selection committee, but they didnt play the part of New Years Six contender in a 27-23 loss to the Demon Deacons at home.
Wake Forest ruled out starting quarterback Sam Hartman after the freshman suffered an injury in the loss to Syracuse last week. That thrust Jamie Newman into the starting role on a short week, on the road, and he was the spark that got the offense going in the second half. Newman has battled injuries throughout his career, at times unable to even practice, but he had some hard runs and key throws that carried this Deacs team to a top-15 win.
NC State quarterback Ryan Finley still stuffed the stat sheet, throwing for 374 yards, but it came on 52 attempts with just one touchdown. The Wolfpack offense was held back by a ground game that never got going, finishing with a 47 yards on 27 attempts. It was a game that provided a spotlight for this unit to put on a show, going up against a Wake Forest defense that has ranked near the bottom of the ACC, but Finley and the Wolfpack offense underperformed expectations. But that doesnt mean that NC State failed to show up with some highlights in the passing game.
Doeren chose go for it on fourth down when NC State was in field goal range in the final minutes. The Wolfpack had already forced Clawson to burn all of Wake Forests timeouts, and if they had converted, the game was over. But a turnover on downs gave the ball back to Newman, down three with no timeouts and 99 seconds left on the clock.
The next gamble for NC State that didnt pay off was to blitz Newman — who threw all three of his touchdown passes in the second half — as the Deacs went empty set with five wide receivers. Newman hung in the pocket long enough to deliver a strike to Jake Freudenthal, and when the few defenders in coverage got tangled up in the middle of the field, it allowed the Wake Forest tight end to run free for the game-winning score.
🏠 [email protected] comes up CLUTCH against #NCState in the final moments for the 2nd-straight year!Jack Freudenthal with the game-winning TD!(@J_Freudenthal) #GoDeacs 🎩 pic.twitter.com/ps879SFbQn
1. NC State could fall out of the CFP Rankings: There might have been nine three-loss teams in the selection committees rankings this week, but NC State could end up on the outside looking in next Tuesday. At 6-3, NC States profile takes a major hit with the home loss to Wake Forest, and that Boston College win — the best win on the Wolfpacks profile — might not carry the same weight after Clemson plays the Eagles on Saturday night.
2. One win closer to bowl eligibility: To have 12 significant contributors, many of them starters, lost for the season to injury and still make a bowl game would be an incredible indication of the programs health under Clawson. Its a short week with a limited rotation at nearly every position, and for Wake Forest to compete at a level where its got a shot to knock off a top-15 team in the fourth quarter is a huge credit to Clawson and his staff. Its a recruiting, development and game planning credit, and one that should be overlooked even if that sixth win doesnt come against Pitt or Duke. If Wake Forest does get picked for a bowl game, which could also happen at 5-7 if APR scores are the tiebreaker, it will be the third straight year Clawson has led the team to the postseason after going 3-9 in each of his first two seasons in Winston-Salem.
3. Wake Forests wide receivers are ridiculous: The Deacs passing offense has been a strength throughout the season, and Thursday night proved that the wide receiver room is strong enough to withstand a change at quarterback. Sage Surratt, Alex Bachman and Greg Dortch all made huge catches in the second half as Wake Forest made its charge back into the game. If Wake Forest makes it back to the postseason, then its wide receivers room is going to deserve a ton of the credit.
😱😱😱@WakeFB WRs Sage Surratt & Alex Bachman did THIS on back-to-back plays!#GoDeacs 🎩 (@SageSurratt_14) (@DavidABachman) #MustSeeACC pic.twitter.com/q7wfpTuxmy
Chip Patterson has spent his young career covering college sports from the Old North State. Hes been writing and talking about football and basketball for CBS Sports since 2010. You may have heard him… Full Bio