Sometimes you got to be lucky to win, and State got some good fortunes in the final seconds of a 20-18 win at Maryland. Now it's time for a final look at the contest with some Monday Morning Quarterbacking.
Key moment of the game:
It's real simple. NC State held its tenuous 20-18 lead when Maryland improbably drove 60 yards on five plays from their own 25 to the NCSU 15 with in a span of 26 seconds despite the Terps playing with true freshman Caleb Rowe, who burned his redshirt on the start of the drive.
That set up Terrapin freshman kicker Brad Craddock for a game-winning 33-yard field goal try, but Craddock's boot quickly started hooking left and bounced off the upright no good, giving NCSU the win.
Three things that worked:
1. Throwing against Maryland's defense
NCSU fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Glennon completed 23 of 47 passes, less than 50 percent, but they went for 307 yards. He also had two touchdown throws and did not turn the ball over once. Only one-time Heisman Trophy leading candidate Geno Smith of West Virginia threw the ball for more yards against Maryland's stout defense. The line deserve kudos for only giving up two sacks as well to one of the top pass rushing teams in the league.
2. Preparing for the Perry Hills Maryland offense
At halftime Maryland had 200 total yards, which was a surprising total, but they held the Terps to just three points. State sacked Hills four times, and Maryland had just 41 rushing yards at the break. Maryland was just 2 of 9 on third down conversions and punted six times in the first half.
3. Coming through in clutch
State's defense held for a crucial three-and-out, the lone of the second half, on Maryland's next to last drive. By using its three timeouts, State was able to allow only 23 seconds to go off the clock and took over at its own 20 with 2:17 left. Then Glennon led a 10-play, 54-yard drive to the Maryland 26, and sophomore Niklas Sade came through with a 43-yard game-winner with 32 seconds left.
Three things that did not work:
1. Adjusting to quarterback change
Tom O'Brien said after the game the worst thing that may have happened to State was Hills hurting his knee at the end of the first half. Sophomore Devin Burns' athleticism, he is a converted wide receiver, was a difficult matchup to defend when given little time to prepare for in practice during the week. The result was 165 rushing yards in the second half, more than Maryland had in any game total this year.
2. Putting Maryland away when they had a chance
State was up 7-3 when they had first and goal at the Maryland 4. Glennon misfired on three straight passes. On the third down and goal play in particular, NCSU seemed to be rushing the play off after some confusion getting lined up and may have been safer calling one of their three timeouts.
Instead State had to settle for a short field goal. NCSU twice had possessions at the end of the first half to get another score, key because the Pack had the ball to start the second half. Both times they punted, and Amerson's long pick six was taken off the board by a block in the back penalty, albeit a questionable one. The Pack could have put Maryland in a big hole that would have been tough for their offense to climb out of had State taken advantage of its chances.
3. Running the football
Not a great afternoon for the Wolfpack running backs. Starter Tony Creecy, a redshirt sophomore, in particular struggled to gain traction. He carried 17 times for just 35 yards, and his one reception resulted in a three-yard loss. Curiously freshman tailback Shadrach Thornton ran just six times for 21 yards and had an eight-yard grab, but it was Creecy who got almost all the playing time in the second half.
Breaking down the position battles:
NC State's OL vs. Maryland's front seven
In terms of pass blocking, a job fairly well done for NC State. Glennon faced some pressure and was sacked twice, but overall it was a solid job against Maryland's good front seven. Rushing the ball though was a different story.
NC State's front seven vs. Maryland's OL
NC State finished with six sacks and was getting a lot of pressure when Hills was in the game. They were also controlling the Maryland ground attack. Burns' entrance completely changed the dynamic of the contest, but that probably was not because of the Maryland line so much as the challenges posed by Burns' athleticism.
NC State's WR vs. Maryland's DB
The future looks bright at receiver with the production State is getting from redshirt junior Quintin Payton and redshirt sophomore Bryan Underwood. Underwood was huge Saturday with six catches for 134 yards, including a 68-yard touchdown. Payton added four receptions for 51 yards. Both redshirt junior Rashard Smith and freshman Charlie Hegedus had some significant receptions as well. It was a good afternoon for most of the receivers.
NC State's DB vs. Maryland's WR
There have been better games for State's secondary. Freshman Stefon Diggs was a huge challenge early, catching six first half passes for 61 yards. Sophomore Marcus Leak added four receptions for 94 yards, and his 47-yarder set up Maryland's first score, a field goal.
Freshman Nigel King's 33-yard catch-and-run also set up Maryland's last field goal try. A pass interference on junior Dontae Johnson set up Maryland's first touchdown. Tackling and coverage needed to be better.
Glennon had as much success against Maryland's defense as any quarterback had enjoyed this season. He deserves credit for engineering a second-straight game-winning drive. Hills was solid in the first half when he stayed upright, but Burns and Rowe playing above their expectations kept Maryland in position to nearly win. Overall a slight edge for Glennon just because his team won.
The best running back on the field was clearly Maryland freshman Wes Brown, who carried 25 times for 121 yards and a score. He was aided by Burns' presence, but Brown had shown earlier this year when healthy he has a promising future for the Terps.
The combination of fith-year senior Mario Carter and redshirt junior Asa Watson were positive factors in the passing game for State. The two combined for seven catches for 64 yards. Maryland senior Matt Furstenburg was less effective with two receptions for 13 yards.
Both teams had big special teams mistakes. Sophomore Wil Baumann's dropped punt gave Maryland great field position to set up their first touchdown drive. But Craddock's missed extra point and the last field goal tilts the edge in this matchup to NC State, especially since Sade came through in the clutch for the Wolfpack.