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NC State’s bad second half dooms it to a 21-20 upset loss to Boston College


Boston College v NC State Photo by Lance King/Getty Images

I suppose it’s a minor miracle that something like this hadn’t happened already—NC State has played with fire plenty this season and survived unscathed despite it. Tonight the bill came due.

As solid as MJ Morris has been over the last couple of weeks, he was the big liability in this game, turning the ball over three times over the final 30 minutes as his offense went cold and Boston College found just enough space to rally. It was a painful reminder of just how young he is, and just how difficult this game can be.

State came out gangbusters and scored 14 points in a hurry, but after that, there was not a lot to like. Apparently all of the plays the offense was going to make down the field were contained by those two drives, and the Pack got bottled up the rest of the way.

NC State has survived this season by avoiding second halves exactly like this one: just don’t make the bigger mistakes, let the defense take it home. The offense only added pressure to the defense by turning the ball over three times, the last of those an absolutely dreadful interception throw by Morris—though he at least had the courtesy to make it well down field.

The defense responded with a stop after that pick, but State could muster up only one first down on its next possession, setting up BC’s game-winning drive to end it. The defense still could have come to the rescue, of course, and the fourth down penalty on Drake Thomas was an iffy one (but probably correct), but it’s not exactly fair to have to ask them to do that again. And if you roll those dice enough times, well, you saw it.

When you get into a mindset of “let’s just let the defense win the game,” you also open up room for shit like that. You don’t have to scare this coaching staff twice; once Morris made one mistake, you could bet that they weren’t going to do anything remotely risky. Morris still managed to turn the ball over anyway.

That final BC possession was there thanks to Dave Doeren’s best intentions, and his guys couldn’t bail him out this time. The former point is an indictment, the latter is not. If you end up in a do-or-die spot where a call could change the game against a bad team, then you’re asking for it. That’s what you play for, that’s what you’ll get sometimes.

The Pack’s defense did what it was supposed to do today. MJ Morris faced his first real adversity and didn’t respond well—which is okay! It was going to happen. State still nearly prevailed anyway, and perhaps with an ounce of imagination from Doeren or Tim Beck, the team would have come through. We’ll never know.