There have been a lot of different contours to a lot of different moments to what has been, well, a confusing year of football. But last week it felt a little like NC State found an identity on the offensive side to match its defense, and this week State maintained that simplified approach, let its defense cook, and rode the results to a surprisingly straightforward win in Blacksburg.
State came out with an emphasis on running the ball, unsurprisingly, and decided to play the long game, which is I guess a generous way of saying that they were hoping the ground game could ground down the other team—just as Virginia Tech was doing the same.
This game quickly belonged to Payton Wilson, who was not about Virginia Tech trying some lateral-assed pass plays. The Hokies tried to limit Kyron Drones’ exposure as a passer, and it did not work.
The second quarter decided this one, and it began with an impressive throw and catch from Brennan Armstrong to KC Concepcion on a fourth down, giving State a big early boost of confidence. That allowed the defense to play ahead, and Tech struggled to find offense the rest of the half. Getting ahead 7-0 on the road, after a quarter of tough back-and-forth punting, made all the difference. (everyone got tired of punting)
Except that standard late-second quarter bit for the defense, of course. But State had an answer there too, closing the half on a touchdown pass from Armstrong to KC to push the advantage to 21-7.
NC State maintained that advantage in the second half with two third-quarter touchdowns, then held on for dear-prevent-defense life over the majority of the fourth quarter. Hey, whatever, who cares. This team is 8-3. What a time.
Great job, everyone. Great gameplan, great execution, great win.