If there was to be a course correction, so to speak, for NC State's recent run in this series, this was it. NC State had won five straight with a solid dose of good fortune, and it had finished even or better in the turnover column every time. Today, Carolina caught the breaks.
As bad as the start of this game was for the Wolfpack, the sixth-straight win actually looked probable by the start of the fourth quarter. State had silenced Carolina after the Heels' 25-point first quarter and rallied to take a 10-point lead.
Then the shit done hit the fan for the second time. But really, it's not fair to suggest this game came down to that final quarter. It was just an odd game from start to finish, and there were a ton of plays that affected the contest in its middle portions, plays that could have really handed this one to State in a decisive manner.
Mike Glennon was fantastic. He missed a few throws, but generally speaking, he was on the money, and his receivers let him down, plain and simple. Bryan Underwood dropped passes over the middle twice on one possession--a catch in either case would have resulted in a first down. Shadrach Thornton dropped a couple of short throws; the normally reliable Quintin Payton even got in on the drop parade. Tony Creecy dropped a pass over the middle that might have resulted in a touchdown.
Say what you will about how the coaches handled the fourth quarter--and I'll have much more on this later--it was primarily the lack of execution that cost NC State this game. We left points on the table; there were the drops, plus Nik Sade's missed field goal from the middle of the field. We just could not handle prosperity, as Tom O'Brien might say.