NC State threatened another upset of an ACC power but again came just short, as No. 22 Florida State escaped Raleigh with a 24-20 win on Saturday night.
Florida State trailed for almost the entire game and faced a 20-10 deficit after NC State’s Jaylen Samuels raced in from 23 yards out — capping a 9-play, 99-yard drive — but the Seminoles mustered enough offense when they had to have it. The ‘Noles answered that marathon drive with a long march of their own, moving 70 yards in seven plays, the last 10 of which came on the legs of Dalvin Cook on the final play of the third quarter.
After three consecutive punts, Deondre Francois hit three long passes — a 27-yard strike to Kermit Whitfield, a 37-yard connection to Nyqwan Murray and a 19-yard gain to Travis Rudolph — as all the yards necessary for an 83-yard touchdown drive to take a 24-20 lead with 3:09 to play in the game.
The Wolfpack tried to mount a response, but, after securing a 1st-and-10 at the FSU 24 with 1:19 remaining, quarterback Ryan Finley completed a pass for a 2-yard loss and fired incomplete three other times to turn the ball over on downs.
Finley was the majority of the offense for NC State; he completed 25-of-41 passes for 304 yards with a touchdown and an interception on the night while being credited for 12 rushes for 20 yards. Three other Pack runners combined for only 145 yards on 29 rushes.
Francois hit 22-of-39 throws for 330 yards and a touchdown while Cook mustered only 65 yards on 18 carries.
For NC State, the loss drops the club to 4-5 and 0-3 against the heavies of the ACC Atlantic, games Dave Doeren needed to win as his name pops up in hot seat talk with the season coming to a close.
Florida State, meanwhile, moves to 6-3 overall and 3-3 in the ACC. The Seminoles close with Boston College, a road trip to Syracuse and a home date with Florida on Thanksgiving Saturday.