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NC State 35, Wake Forest 17: Huge first quarter propels Wolfpack to victory

Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

Coaches like to talk about playing the "full 60 minutes" of football, but sometimes you only need 15 minutes of fantastic football. NC State scored four touchdowns in the first quarter--all of them big plays--which was enough to give the Wolfpack a 35-17 win in Winston-Salem on Saturday afternoon.

NC State struck first thanks to a tremendous individual effort by Jacoby Brissett, who eluded a sack to find Maurice Trowell for a 59-yard score less than a minute into the game. A couple minutes later, Matt Dayes broke a tackle to spring himself for an 85-yard score, and the big-play-a-thon was on.

State closed out the quarter with a long touchdown pass to Nyheim Hines--his first career TD--and another huge rushing score from Matt Dayes, who had nearly 150 yards rushing after the opening quarter.

NC State ran up more than 300 total yards of offense during the first 15 minutes, more yards of offense than it had in either of its last two games. After that, though, was little more than frustration. The Wolfpack started making execution errors. Jacoby Brissett missed some throws, also made some poor decisions. He also made some great plays, but amid all of it, NC State couldn't sustain scoring drives.

Some of that is on the special teams, or more specifically Kyle Bambard, who missed a pair of field goal tries inside 40 yards. The second of those, a 33-yarder, was missed badly.

But Wake Forest simply didn't have the offense to overcome NC State's bull-rush start, and it didn't matter if the quarterback was John Wolford or Kendall Hinton.

Give the Deacs credit for a modest rally, and for staying in the game mentally to limit State's lead for more than two quarters of play, but their limitations meant State's first-quarter outburst was more than enough to secure a win. NC State owned this game from the start, and let's make no mistake about that. For all its miscues, some of them self-inflicted, the Wolfpack was in no real danger of losing after that first quarter. It was like three quarters of garbage time, but with worrying.

Bra'Lon Cherry's fourth-quarter punt return touchdown really put the game on ice, giving the Pack its first score since the opening quarter and a 35-10 lead. NC State is now 5-2 overall, and 1-2 in league play.