Jaylen Samuels

Associated Press

NC State smashes Vanderbilt in Independence Bowl rout

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NC State was too much for Vanderbilt on Monday night. More specifically, the pitch-and-catch combination of Ryan Finley-to-Jaylen Samuels was too much for Vanderbilt, as the Wolfpack raced to a 41-17 Independence Bowl victory in Shreveport, La.

Finley and Samuels hooked up six times for 104 yards and three decisive touchdowns on the night. The first came at the 9:08 mark of the second quarter, a 9-yard strike to put NC State on top 7-3, handing the club a lead it would not relinquish. The second connection came nearly eight minutes later, a 55-yard snatch-and-dash that all but put the game out of reach at 14-3.

After a 5-yard scoring rush by Reggie Gallaspy II pushed the lead to 21-3, Finley’s third and final strike to Samuels, a 17-yard connection, put the game out of reach with 5:34 still to play in the third quarter.

Vanderbilt briefly climbed back in the game when Ralph Webb posted a 30-yard touchdown run and Khari Blasingame bulled in from the 1-yard line to pull the Commodores within 28-17 with 10:37 left in the game, but NC State (7-6) immediately ended any comeback hopes when Nyheim Hines raced the ensuing kickoff back 100 yards for a touchdown.

Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmer provided NC State its final score of the night when Niles Clark returned an interception 32 yards for a touchdown as time expired. Shurmur finished the night hitting 19-of-46 passes for 158 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. Vanderbilt (6-7) managed 156 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 4.5 yards per carry.

Finley closed his season connecting on 19-of-30 passes for 235 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Matthew Dayes led the Pack on the ground with nine carries for 47 yards.

The win pushed the ACC to 2-0 in bowl games pitting 6-6 teams and clinched at least a .500 record for the conference against the SEC in 2016. The ACC is now 7-3 against its southeastern rival with three games and the possibility of a Clemson-Alabama CFP national championship still remaining.

No. 22 Florida State survives upset-minded NC State

AP
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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.