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NC State takes Pitt’s best shots and rallies for a late 30-29 victory


NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As much as the Virginia Tech game was an alarming reprise of 2019—and it was definitely that—then so was the game today against Pittsburgh a repudiation of all that crap. This NC State team is different, and it proved that in a decisive way Saturday afternoon by rallying past Pitt for a last-minute 30-29 win.

The Wolfpack gave up an easy score to begin this game—easy being the kind word, since Pitt’s receiver had nobody within like 30 yards of him as he scurried home on the second play from scrimmage, putting the Pack in an early 7-0 hole.

But State was unmoved despite the calamity, and actually asserted control for the rest of the quarter, building a 17-7 lead.

And Pitt, good team that it is, punched back. Pitt closed that gap to 17-13 by halftime, and it was only thanks to excellent red zone defense from State that the Pack still held the lead.

The third quarter didn’t go much better, as Pitt again controlled the run of play and took a 20-17 lead into the fourth quarter. Pitt took a 23-17 lead with about 10 minutes left in the contest, which is when Devin Leary and the NC State offense responded.

Leary was exceptional today—just really, really good—and he was at his best late, leading State on touchdown drives twice in those last 10 minutes, when it mattered most. State put the pressure back on Pitt by pushing back ahead with a touchdown to Cary Angeline with eight minutes left, and while Pitt came back with a TD to take the lead with 1:44 left, that was more than enough time for Leary.

Here is the game winner, a beautiful back-shoulder shot to Emeka Emezie, who had a huge game:

Can’t say enough about the resiliency of these guys; that’s a lot different from last year, when it took only a few mistakes for imposter syndrome to set in, and for things to roll downhill from there.

They took shots from a really good Pitt team today, on the road, and responded in the best possible way. And they went about it angry the whole time, too. I think they’re tired of the bullshit; they definitely were today.