N.C. State beats UNC in down-to-the-wire thriller: What we learned about the Wolfpack

·3 min read

Eventually N.C. State needed some things to bounce its way. In the final two minutes, that started to happen. The Wolfpack got more than enough in the final two minutes.

Trailing UNC by nine, Emeka Emezie caught two touchdown passes in the last 53 seconds, recovered an onside kick and got UNC flagged for two personal fouls.

The final result was a historic night in Carter-Finley and a 34-30 win.

Emezie, the all-time receptions leader in school history, was quiet most of the evening, but his final two catches covered 88 yards, both resulting in touchdown catches.

Emezie finished with five catches for 112 yards. His first score, he found himself wide open and it put N.C. State down two with 29 seconds remaining. The Wolfpack got its first big bounce of the night when Christopher Dunn perfectly executed an onside kick and recovered it himself after UNC touched it first.

N.C. State got some help when UNC was called for not one, but two personal fouls on the drive. On first down, Leary went for it all and it paid off, as Emezie jumped up and down with the grab.

The Wolfpack defense then picked Howell off with five seconds remaining to seal the improbable win.

SPECIAL TEAMS

N.C. State’s special teams have been huge this season. After UNC’s first drive, the Wolfpack blocked a punt (Jordan Houston) and the ball was scooped up in the endzone by C.J. Riley. It was the fourth time this season the Pack has scored on special teams. Later in the first half, linebacker Vi Jones blocked a punt. It was his fourth blocked kick in his career, placing him No. 6 in school history.

SLOW STARTS STILL A THING

N.C. State’s offense has come alive late in games after crawling out of the gates. This was the case once again. The Wolfpack managed just 14 points in the first half. Seven of those points were scored by the punt block in the first quarter.

After Devin Leary’s touchdown pass to Trent Pennix in the first quarter, N.C. State punted three times, missed a field goal and turned the ball over, falling behind by 10 midway through the third.

PROTECTING LEARY

North Carolina came into the game 10th in the ACC in sacks. It found something that worked against the N.C. State offensive line. The Tar Heels sacked Devin Leary six times, a season high — tying the number of sacks the Pack has given up in a game this year.

BAD NIGHT FOR RUN DEFENSE

The N.C. State run defense has been its strength all season. Against UNC, it had a hard time stopping the combination of Ty Chandler and British Brooks. The Wolfpack gave up a season-high 297 yards on the ground. North Carolina came into the game with the third best rushing attack in the league at 212.7 yards per game. The Tar Heels averaged 7.2 yards per carry.

LEARY MOVING UP THE RECORD BOOKS

With his first half touchdown pass to Trent Pennix and his third quarter score to Thayer Thomas, Devin Leary got closer to Philip Rivers as the single-season touchdown passing leader. His two second half passes put him ahead of the N.C. State legend. Leary now has 35 touchdown passes this season.

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