In a thriller, NC State redshirt junior quarterback Russell Wilson connected with redshirt junior tight end George Bryan on a 1-yard touchdown pass with 2:40 left in the game, and fifth-year senior linebacker Nate Irving recovered a crucial fumble at the NC State 8 with 48.3 seconds left to preserve a 28-24 NCSU win.
The Pack improves to 6-2 overall and 3-1 in the ACC. No. 15 Florida State falls to 6-2 and 4-1 in the ACC.
The NCSU offense struck first with the use of a short field.
NC State ran the ball nine out of 12 plays in a methodical 51-yard drive that resulted in redshirt junior quarterback Russell Wilson diving in from the one-yard line on a keeper to give the Wolfpack a 7-0 lead with 7:55 left in the first quarter.
Florida State finally got on the scoreboard when senior quarterback Christian Ponder ran around the right side of his line for a 3-yard touchdown. The play was originally ruled down on the one-yard line, but upon official review Ponder was ruled to have reached the pylon with 7:12 left in the first half, tying the score at 7-7.
The first big play of the game led the way for FSU to take its first lead of the game at 14-7. On the first play of the ensuing possession after Ponder's touchdown run, NC State redshirt freshman running back Dean Haynes fumbled at the NC State 18. Five plays later Ponder ran for his second touchdown of the game, this time a two-yard keep with 4:54 left in the first half.
Haynes suffered a possible concussion on his carry and was ruled out for the rest of the game.
After NC State was forced to punt on its next possession, FSU padded to its lead with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Ponder to receiver Willie Haulstead with 46.4 seconds left in the half. The big play was a scrambling Ponder flicking an underhanded pass to an open Bert Reed for 10 yards to the 10 on a third and seven.
Florida State led at halftime 21-7.
NC State came out with a power running game to start the second half. Freshman running back Mustafa Greene ran six times and caught a pass to finish with 39 yards on the drive. Wilson capped the 13-play drive with a 10-yard run up the middle to cut the Seminoles lead to 21-14 with 10 minutes left in the third quarter.
The momentum turned to the defensive side with senior defensive tackle Natanu Mageo sacking and forcing a fumble on Ponder at the Florida State 22-yard line. Redshirt junior defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy recovered the ball.
Wilson turned the turnover into a touchdown with a 20-yard run on a quarterback draw to tie the game 21-21 with 7:36 left in the third quarter.
The Pack appeared poised to take the lead, but FSU cornerback Xavier Rhodes intercepted a Wilson pass inside the FSU 10-yard line. Rhodes returned the pick to the FSU 28, setting up a 9-play drive that stalled at the NC State 13. Dustin Hopkins nailed a 31-yard field goal with 9:07 left in the game to give the Noles a 24-21 lead.
The key play in the drive was a quick out pass to Reed on a third and 20 at the FSU 18 that Reed to across the field for a 30-yard gain and a first down at the 48.
NC State drove the field on its next possession, reaching the FSU 1 on a 35-yard pass from Wilson to fifth-year senior wide out Darrell Davis on fourth and four. However, Wilson was stuffed on two straight quarterback draws, and sophomore James Washington's leap over the pile was halted inches short of the goal line.
NC State originally lined up for a potential game-tying field goal, but after calling a timeout decided to go for it on fourth and goal. Wilson found an open redshirt junior tight end George Bryan in the back of the end zone for a 28-24 lead with 2:40 left in the game. State drove the 70 yards for the score in 13 plays, taking 6:21 off the clock.
FSU started its next drive at their own 29, and they marched right down the field. Twice Ponder executed third down conversions, including an eight-yard run to the NC State 8 on a third and five play. However, on second and goal Ponder mishandled a hand-off to running back Ty Jones and fifth-year senior linebacker Nate Irving recovered at the NC State 8 with 48.3 seconds left.
State ran out the clock to preserve the huge victory.
Click below to interact with NC State fans on the official game thread: