NC State’s win over North Carolina on Friday night was unlikely in a lot of ways, namely in the ways that even made the last two minutes possible. The Wolfpack had been so bad in so many key indicator areas that its fourth-quarter deficit was without question well-earned. And yet, somehow State managed to finagle its way around all of it and steal with game.
NC State did need a little help from its opponent, which is always the case for results like these.
(Yds/Rush calculated with sacks and sack yardage removed.)
You’d have had a hard time convincing me before the game that Carolina would run for nearly 300 yards, but to be fair I hadn’t really paid attention to how good the Tar Heels have been on the ground the last couple months. They went over 200 yards rushing in six of their last seven, and hit 300 yards in three of those six.
NC State had to overcome allowing that big day from UNC’s offense. State had to overcome its offense sputtering for the majority of the game—the Pack allowed a half dozen sacks, finished 2-10 on third downs, and lost a fumble. State effectively lost the turnover battle in the game since it didn’t pull even until picking off Sam Howell’s desperation heave in the waning seconds.
Finding a way to win required getting a touchdown out of the special teams unit to start the game. It required bending but not breaking in some crucial spots—UNC twice settled for field goals from inside the NC State 10 yard line. Those ended up being pretty big wins for State’s defense.
Still it looked like UNC sealed the deal when that 50-yarder went through the uprights late, and nobody would have argued that the Tar Heels had earned it. But you just never know, do you?
NC State has definitely had its share of good fortune over the last 15 years—Russell Wilson helped the Pack win a couple games it probably should not have—and you can put the last two minutes of Friday’s game right at the top of the list. Gotta be a bit frustrating if you’re a UNC fan. Probably sticks in the craw. It’s a beautiful thing.