Ah, 2007. Chuck Amato has been fired, and Tom O’Brien has taken his place to restore the NC State program to some semblance of respectability. A freshman named Russell Wilson takes his redshirt season and watches all of the action from the sideline.
The Wolfpack struggled to a 5-7 (3-5) finish that season, and it was such a mundane run with several multi-score losses that I had a difficult time thinking of anything noteworthy about the entire affair. But then I remembered: Kirby Freeman.
On Nov. 3, 2007, NC State and Miami met at the Orange Bowl for what would turn out to be a mostly unbearable slog with a million field goal attempts. The final score was 19-16. NC State won, in overtime, despite being incapable of running the ball and not much better at throwing it.
Miami ran for more than 300 yards on the day, which was important, since Hurricanes quarterback Kirby Freeman completed exactly one pass in the entire game. He finished 1-14 for 84 yards and three interceptions. This is that one completion:
This play happened with a little over five minutes remaining in the first half and gave Miami a 10-0 lead. So the Hurricanes went the rest of the way—more than 35 minutes of game time—without a pass completion. Yet still they carried a 13-7 lead into the fourth quarter, where State erupted—erupted I tell you!—for three straight field goals to take a 16-13 advantage.
Miami then proceeded to put together an 18-play drive that ate up the last six minutes of regulation, only to settle for a game-tying field goal in the red zone.
Field goal attempts from the red zone were a theme of this magnificent, beautiful, trash game. NC State kicker Steven Hauschka attempted three of them and missed one. He was 4-5 overall. Miami kicker Daren Daly attempted four of them, three of which were from inside 30 yards. He finished 3-5 overall. These teams sucked to death in the red zone in almost equal measures.
Naturally, overtime came down to kicking. Miami drove down to State’s 10 on the first possession of the frame but stalled, and Daly then pushed wide a 27-yarder. With the opportunity now to steal this game, NC State gained exactly none yards on three plays, but that didn’t matter to Hauschka, who drilled a 42-yarder to clinch a victory that was quickly and understandably forgotten, if it was ever noticed, by the rest of the country.
There’s a lot of real impressive-in-a-dumb way stuff in this box score from this one:
— Daniel Evans was 19-40 for 207 yards passing, an average of 5.4 per attempt. Freeman, he of the lone MEGA COMPLETION, averaged 6.0 yards per attempt.
— Miami ran the ball 60 times at 5.2 per tote yet inexplicably allowed Freeman to keep throwing the ball; State won the turnover battle 3-0 as a result of this, and Freeman’s final INT set up State’s go-ahead field goal in the fourth quarter. If you exclude Freeman’s four rushing attempts, the team’s average gain per carry jumps to 5.6.
— The teams combined for 11 punts and 10 field goal attempts.
— Both teams had 16 first downs, both were 7-19 on third downs.
— The U ran it on all six of its OT plays, including a 3rd-and-10 situation from the 12, so little did the coaching staff trust Freeman in that possibly game-defining moment. (Which it was, thanks to the kicker.)
— Combined, Evans and Freeman were 20-54 for 291 yards, one touchdown and three picks. The passer rating calculation is complicated but I think I’ve figured it right: their combined rating is [wilhelm scream].
To the relief of countless football fans, neither of these two teams reached bowl eligibility.
Thank you for that strange day of college football, Kirby. It’s the only NC State game from 2007 that I can recall in any sort of detail, and it’s all thanks to your historic errantry. Now let’s never speak of this again.