Blocked Punt Sets the Tone for the Wolfpack Win Over the Yellow Jackets

While the game started off reasonably well after Brad Jefferson sacked Russell Wilson causing a fumble that was recovered by Logan Walls for the first turnover of the game, the Georgia Tech offense was unable to move the football and forced to punt.  All of the momentum that is created when a turnover is forced by the defense was wasted.  After the wolfpack started their second drive of the game, the defense stiffened forcing a punt.  The Georgia Tech offense starting moving the football after a long run by Joshua Nesbitt down to about the state 30 yard line.  Then the first of many disasters struck; Anthony Allen fumbled a toss sweep pitch to the right side with the wolfpack recovering that fumble ending a scoring opportunity.  Russell Wilson took over and led the wolfpack down the field but the defense held them to a field goal attempt that was wide right.  Unfortunately, the Yellow Jackets offense was unable to move the football on their next offensive series, and this is where disaster struck; the punt was blocked and recovered for a touchdown.  There were at least half a dozen state players within 1 yard of the punter indicating that the protection was nonexistent.  That is just unacceptable.

That play sucked the life out of the fans, and no doubt also had an impact on the team.  After another lackluster offensive series that resulted in a punt, the defense played reasonably well holding the wolfpack to a field goal, and a 10 to 0 lead in the 2nd quarter.  On the Yellow Jackets 3rd series they are running the option up the middle with Anthony Allen and moving the football for the first time today.  This was after losing our all ACC center Sean Bedford early in the game with a lower leg injury.  What was not known was his back up; redshirt freshman Jay Finch was unable to play after injuring a hamstring earlier that week.  Meaning that we’re playing with our 3rd team center; redshirt freshman Ray Beno who is actually a guard.  From what I saw Mr. Beno played well enough, considering that he normally doesn’t play this position.  However, a botched handoff on the mesh between Joshua Nesbitt and Anthony Allen resulted in another turnover giving North Carolina State the football around the 50 yard line.

The much maligned defense holds the wolfpack to another field attempt that this time is missed to the left.  Now the crowd wakes up and Georgia Tech once again has the football.  On this series freshman B.J. Bostic takes a pitchout to the right and goes 43 yards down the state 25 yard line.  A few plays later Orwin Smith takes a pitch to the right side and runs 10 yards for the touchdown and the lead is cut to 10 to 7.  Considering all of the poor play offensively to that point, and a couple of missed field goals, the 10 to 7 deficit isn’t too bad.  Then Russell Wilson carved up the defense scoring a touchdown on a nice pass to the back of the end zone and increased the lead to 17 to 7, wiping out all of the Georgia Tech momentum.  Two plays before that touchdown Brad Jefferson sacked Mr. Wilson for an 11 yard loss, but on 2nd and 21 he threw a 22 yard pass for a first down, making this touchdown pass possible. 

We receive the football to open the 2nd half and on the first play from scrimmage Joshua rips off a 60 yard run where he was tackled at the 3 yard line.  Frankly, if Stephen Hill had stayed with his man downfield Joshua would have scored instead of taking a vicious hit to his knee that had him down on the field for a minute before he got back up.  Roddy Jones scored from 3 yards out and we were back in the game only trailing 17 to 14 with the entire 2nd half of the game left to play.  Give North Carolina State credit, they gashed our defense the 2nd half as nobody was stepping up on defense to make a play.  We had no pass rush and the wolfpack running game had over 150 yards to go along with Mr. Wilson tossing for about 350 for the day.  On one play outside linebacker Anthony Egbuniwe had a chance to sack Russell Wilson for a loss, only to miss and allow him to complete a pass that went for about 30 yards breaking the back of the defense.  The wolfpack scored 2 more touchdowns in the 3rd taking a 31 to 14 lead with about 5 minutes left in the quarter.

The Yellow Jackets start driving the football down to around the North Carolina State 45 before getting stuffed on a 4th down and 3.  At this point there is about 1 minute 30 seconds left in the 3rd quarter and fans are leaving the football game and filling the aisle where I am sitting.  I was really shocked at this sight and very disappointed in our fans given the amount of time left and the score not at the point where a comeback was impossible.  So we start the 4th quarter with state having to punt the ball from midfield.  We start on the 10 yard line with Joshua hitting Anthony Allen on a nice 20 yard route out of the backfield and Anthony does the rest breaking tackles and turning this into a 50 yard gain all the way down to the wolfpack 40 yard line.  Next play B.J. Bostic takes a pitch and gains 8 yards to the right down to the 32 yard line.  Then Joshua hits Tyler Melton in stride for a 32 yard touchdown and the score is now 31 to 21 with 13 minutes left to play in the game.  The crowd is rocking and everyone is on their feet. 

The defense finally gets some pressure on Mr. Wilson the next series and he throws his first interception in about 168 attempts and Jerrard Tarrant runs it in about 35 yards for the score now the lead has been cut to 31 to 28 and the crowd and team are all rocking inside of BDS.  Unfortunately, Mr. Wilson is the real deal and leads the wolfpack down the field throwing a nice 25 yard touchdown pass to a receiver who was actually covered pretty well, but still made the catch to up their lead to 38 to 28 at that point. 

Then Georgia Tech gets the ball back and after a nice run by Joshua Nesbitt to get a first down keeping the drive alive, he drops back to pass and throws a strike to Cory Earls.  However, the ball is tipped by our other receiver Stephen Hill who had stopped running his own pattern, floated into the passing lane, and effectively knocked the pass down as Mr. Earls had his defender beat and would have had a long gain if not a touchdown.  I’m not sure if this play by Mr. Hill was a great effort or a lack of focus, at any rate, that ended the day for the Yellow Jackets and NC State scored another touchdown to make the final score 45 to 28.

The defense needs to rotate in more defensive linemen to get a better pass rush, especially on a hot day.  Give North Carolina State credit, they took advantage of our mistakes and Mr. Wilson kept us off balance all day.  Joshua is a real tough kid, but he needs some help from his receivers who appeared to stop running their routes on a couple of passing plays.  True, Joshua had some bad passes, but the knock down by Stephen Hill after failing to run out his route curtailed another big play on offense in the 4th quarter. 

I want to give credit to our third string center; Ray Beno for doing a good job blocking in a very tough situation, as well as Zack Krish who also played center along with Mr. Beno.  This was a tough loss, but my gut tells me that NC State is going to be a pretty good football team this season.  After watching Oklahoma barely survive Cincinnati this past Saturday evening having to recover an onsides kick to secure a narrow 2 point win, that reminded me that the wolfpack thoroughly dismantled Cincinnati a week earlier on a Thursday night game.  Now it is time to pick up the pieces and get ready to go to Wake Forest next Saturday.  Go jackets!