NC State’s start against Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon was perfection, but the game bogged down in the second and third quarters. Still, NC State was never really in danger of losing the contest, and moved to 3-1 with a 33-16 win over the Deacs.
The Wolfpack scored on its opening driving for the third time in four games, capping an easy march down the field with a Matt Dayes touchdown run to make it 7-0. State was outstanding on both sides of the ball during the first 15 minutes, staking the Wolfpack out to a 17-0 lead.
Then, well ... then the game took a turn for the frustrating. Wake rallied with some solid drives—all of which, critically for NC State, ended in field goals—and the Deacs’ defensive front finally started getting the Pack’s offense off schedule.
So State didn’t finish the first half strong, and the third quarter was a mess as well. Within all of that, there were a whole lot of penalties.
Rather than dwelling on that stuff, though, I’d rather point out that Ryan Finley was tremendous for the fourth consecutive game, and Matt Dayes finished with over 100 yards rushing, and Jaylen Samuels scored another touchdown, and Cole Cook and Thad Moss had tremendous catches, and Stephen Louis went for 100+ receiving.
And Josh Jones had a huge night defensively. Reggie Gallaspy made a huge heads-up play that preserved a touchdown drive.
There was a lot to like, but regardless of what you thought about the officiating, there were more worrisome signs from the defense, which gave up some chunk plays to a mediocre offense led by a mediocre quarterback.
But, bottom line, they overcame some missteps and sloppy play to prevent Wake from getting much inside the 30, and that was a major difference today. The Deacs had to settle for a three field goals during the first half.
This game had the potential to go south during the second half, in a number of different ways. It didn’t. From the midway point of the first quarter on, NC State led by double digits. I think I’ll take that, even if the route to the finish was more frustrating than I’d like.