Quick hits and notes from NC State's 38-3 win over Wake Forest in front of 57,161 fans on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
Taking care of business
Wake Forest came into Saturday with a clear game plan, which Demon Deacons head coach Jim Grobe admitted after the game. They wanted to take the air out of the ball, relieve pressure off of true freshman quarterback Tanner Price and run the football to make the game shorter.
It worked for much of the first half. Wake Forest ran for a respectable 88 yards in the first 30 minutes and trailed only 10-3 at halftime. The Deacs had the ball for 21:15 in the half, but a crucial fourth and goal stop with a minute to go by NC State at the Wolfpack 2-yard line seemed to be a turning point in the game.
NC State imposed their will in the second half, scoring touchdowns on four of their first six possessions while their seventh and final drive ran out the clock. The defense stepped up and held Wake to just 39 yards of offense in the second half. Wake ran for only 22 yards in the final 30 minutes.
Wake Forest finished with 188 yards of total offense, the fewest allowed by a Wolfpack defense against a BCS opponent since the 2004 season finale versus ECU when the Pirates had 140 yards. NC State has allowed just 17 total points in the last two games, the fewest allowed in a two-game ACC span since they held Clemson and Virginia to 13 total points in 1982.
Irving with a special afternoon
Fifth-year senior linebacker Nate Irving made his senior day a special one. He was credited with 13 tackles, including a school-record eight tackles for losses. The previous school record was held by Mario Williams when he had six hits behind the line of scrimmage against Southern Miss in 2005. One of Irving's tackles for loss was a sack.
Irving's performance slightly overshadowed a strong afternoon for redshirt sophomore safety Earl Wolff. He finished with 11 tackles, including 1.5 for loss and a sack, a recovered a fumble.
Wilson's last home game?
Redshirt junior quarterback Russell Wilson was honored before the game with the seniors. This could have been Wilson's last home game at Carter-Finley Stadium. He completed 24 of 35 passes for 300 yards and two touchdowns and a harmless interception. Wilson also ran seven times for 17 yards and two more scores.
Wilson is now responsible for 85 touchdowns in his career, moving him up to second all-time in ACC history behind former Wolfpack quarterback Philip Rivers. Rivers' conference mark stands at 112.
Wilson also reached 300 yards passing for the 11th time in his career and seventh time this year.
Receivers celebrate good senior day
Senior receiver Owen Spencer caught seven passes for 138 yards and a touchdown. He became the fifth wide out in school history to go over 2,000 yards receiving. He has 2,012 for his career now.
Fifth-year senior Jarvis Williams added four catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. Williams has now caught 19 career touchdowns, two away from tying Jerricho Cotchery for second most in school history. Torry Holt holds the all-time record with 31.
It was not a memorable senior day for fifth-year senior receiver Darrell Davis. He did not dress for the second consecutive game in what Wolfpack head coach Tom O'Brien termed a coach's decision.
There were a couple of notable changes in the starting line-up for NC State. Freshman walk-on Chris Hawthorne won the kicking job to replace injured fifth-year senior Josh Czajkowski. Hawthorne had a solid afternoon. He made a 25-yard field goal and connected on all five extra points. He also averaged 63.7 yards per kickoff, including one that reached the end zone. Czajkowski had been averaging 63.5 yards per kickoff. Hawthorne's one negative was a kickoff that went out of bounds.
Sophomore James Washington earned his first career start at tailback. He became the third running back to start a game for the Pack this year, joining redshirt freshman Dean Haynes and freshman Mustafa Greene. Washington though only ran five times for 13 yards, including his first touchdown of the year. He caught seven passes for 36 yards.
Haynes played late in the fourth quarter and ran for a yard on one carry, his first action since suffering a concussion against Florida State Oct. 28. NC State did not run the ball very well Saturday however, carrying 22 times for just 59 yards. That was the lowest rushing output of the year for the Wolfpack.
The game took just two hours and 35 minutes to complete, by far the shortest game the Wolfpack has played this year. The previous shortest contest was Western Carolina in the season opener, a three hours and three minute-affair. The longest game State has played this year was at East Carolina, an overtime loss that lasted one minute shy of four hours.
What the win means
NC State improves to 7-3 on the season and 4-2 in the ACC. Wake Forest extends their losing streak to eight games and fall to 2-8 and 1-6 in conference action. NC State assures itself of its first winning season under head coach Tom O'Brien and since 2003 when they won eight contests.
NC State now holds a 62-36-6 all-time record against Wake Forest and has won 16 of the last 23 meetings. State has also won 12 of the last 13 matchups in Raleigh.
Spotted at the game
Scouts from the New York Giants and Kansas City Chiefs were in the press box. Also at the game were bowl scouts from the Chick-Fil-A Bowl.
Recruits spotted included several Wolfpack verbal commitments: quarterback Brian Taylor from Harnett Central High in Angier, N.C., athlete Maurice Morgan from North Lenoir in La Grange, N.C., linebacker Brandon Pittman from Leesville Road High in Raleigh, punter Wil Baumann from Hoggard High in Wilmington, N.C., and defensive end Dave Mann from Lithonia (Ga.) High.
Quarterback Marquise Williams from Mallard Creek High in Charlotte, N.C., a UNC soft commitment, was seen before the game. He is on an official visit to NC State. Tight end Drew Owens from Ardrey Kell High in Charlotte, offensive lineman Donovan Smith from Owings Mill (Md.) High and defensive end McKay Knadsen from Snow College in Ephraim, Utah were also expected to make official visits this weekend.