TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Turnovers and injuries have doomed North Carolina State all season.
A little of both happened in Florida State's 27-10 win over NC State on Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Wolfpack fell to 1-5 overall, while the Seminoles improved to 4-1 overall.
The inconsistent NC State offense kept things simple, and almost made it through the first half without a turnover against Florida State. Unfortunately, the interception bug-a-boo returned right before halftime and continued in the second half. The Wolfpack finished with three picks and also lost possession on a kickoff.
Junior quarterback Daniel Evans' error-free game came to an end when he badly under-threw senior receiver Darrell Blackman at the eight-yard line and was intercepted by FSU cornerback Patrick Robinson right before halftime.
The play before Evans' first interception also proved to be the last play of the game of junior running back Andre Brown. The junior rushed for no gain up the middle and was taken out to get X-rays on his foot. The news proved disappointing for the talented Brown — fractured foot.
The news got worst when it was revealed following the game that Brown will miss the remainder of the season.
Evans' first pick cost NC State at least three points, but his second interception proved more damaging. Evans was rolling out and tried to hit senior tight end Marcus Stone, but FSU cornerback Michael Ray Garvin cut in front of him and returned the interception 43 yards for a score with 11:30 left in the third quarter to give the Seminoles a 17-10 lead.
FSU wide receiver Greg Carr added the second of his two big players when he overpowered NC State redshirt freshman cornerback DeAndre Morgan for a 40-yard touchdown to stretch the lead to 24-10.
Brown is the latest NC State player to suffer an injury, joining junior running back Toney Baker (knee), senior tight end Anthony Hill (knee), sophomore quarterback Harrison Beck (shoulder), and backup sophomore right tackle Jeraill McCuller (knee), among others.
With Florida State's confidence surging following the Garvin interception, Mother Nature stepped in. The Seminoles momentum was broken up with a 49-minute lightning delay.
The first half was evenly played with the score tied 10-10 at halftime.
Florida State went deep right off the bat on the first play of the game. New starting quarterback Xavier Lee connected with the 6-foot-6 Carr down the right sideline. NC State 5-11 senior cornerback Jimmie Sutton III had great position, but Carr just went up and over him and snagged the ball for a 53-yard reception down to the six-yard line.
Two plays later, Lee went off tackle for a two-yard touchdown with 12:49 left in the first quarter to give the Seminoles an early 7-0 lead.
NC State responded to FSU's first score with one of its best drives of the year. Brown and sophomore Jamelle Eugene, whether on the ground or through swing passes, gained 63 of the 64 yards on the seven-play scoring drive, culminated when Evans hit senior receiver John Dunlap on a quick slant from one-yard out to tie the game 7-7. Dunlap got inside of FSU cornerback Tony Carter for the score.
Brown gained 32 yards on the drive and Eugene added 31 yards, including a darting 19-yard gain to the three-yard line to set up Dunlap's touchdown.
NC State took the lead 10-7 on a senior kicker Steven Hauschka 23-yard field with 2:25 left in the first quarter. The Wolfpack used the same script with short passes to the backs out of the backfield, but Evans did hit freshman wide receiver Owen Spencer for a nice 20-yard reception to the FSU 10-yard line. The Seminoles defense stiffened, and Evans didn't try to risk throwing away the three points.
After missing two field goals — one from 51 yards — FSU kicker Gary Cismesia hit a 39-yarder with 3:09 left in the second quarter to tie the game 10-10.
NC State's defense bent a little, but once FSU got into the red zone, the Wolfpack dialed up the heat, stalling one drive with freshman linebacker Thomas Barnes getting good pressure on a blitz, and stalling another drive thanks to redshirt freshman linebacker Nate Irving blowing up the pocket, leading to Cismesia's 39-yard field goal.
NC State almost tacked on another score when Evans ran the hurry-up offense to close out the first half. Evans completed a 23-yard pass to Dunlap and back-to-back passes to redshirt freshman wide out Darrell Davis for a combined 23 yards.
With the loss NC State is 1-5 overall and 0-3 in the ACC. Florida State improved to 4-1, winning its fourth straight, and 1-1 in the conference.