It's a slow week, so I got to thinking back on the football season and all of the awesome and/or game-changing plays NC State made over the course of the year. Most of my top five is pretty obvious, though the order is debatable:
5.) Game-sealing fumble recovery vs. FSU. There is something to be said for being opportunistic--when the fumble happened, we were all over it--but since this was an unforced error I moved it to the back of the line.
4.) Audie Cole's INT vs. UCF. You could argue C.J. Wilson's pick six should be in this spot instead. No question that was a more decisive play in that it proved the game-winning score and the only points State would manage in the second half. But Cole's brilliant individual effort gets the nod because it was a true holy shit play, and one of the first real indications that things would be different for the defense in 2010.
Click the link and just keep you eyes on Audie the entire time. At the snap he's two yards off the line of scrimmage, standing around the 36. He takes a step forward as it looks like a run coming his way, then wheels around instantly when he realizes what's going on. He sprints down field, breaks outside, manages to get his head turned around, somehow finds the football and catches it around midfield. It's the craziest 15-yard out route any Wolfpack player ran all year.
3.) The two-yard hail mary touchdown vs. UNC. Could be #1 for the sheer improbability of it, but I put it here because circumstances kind of conspired against the joy of the moment. It took a minute to figure out what the hell happened--the refs huddled and for a few seconds the only indication that a catch occurred was the reaction from the State fans in the corner. And then of course there was the obligatory booth review. A huge defining moment, though, no doubt about that.
2.) George Bryan's fourth down touchdown reception vs. FSU. A gutsy, season-saving call executed to perfection.
1.) T.J. Graham's punt return touchdown vs. UNC. Such an unexpected turn of events, and a play that gave me the feeling we were going to win the game really for the first time. That's what made it awesome. No flags! Holy crap we're winning!
-- C.J. Wilson's pick six vs. UCF.
-- TD pass to T.J. Graham to put State up 10 and halt a late Georgia Tech rally.
-- Russell's big scramble against UNC.
-- Blocked punts vs. GT and BC.
-- The interception that ended Central Florida's final drive.
-- Nate supplexing that poor kid from Wake Forest.
-- The fumble at the goal line that denied ECU a touchdown and kept the Pack close at 24-21 late in the third quarter.
-- Fourth down conversion that set up George Bryan's TD vs. FSU. Thirty-five yard catch and run by Darrell Davis.
Let me know what I missed.