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No. 24 N.C. State slips past No. 17 Louisville to upset Lamar Jackson and company

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It was a rough film session for North Carolina State last season after the team played Louisville, as Dave Doeren’s coaching staff had to watch the eventual Heisman Trophy winner race up and down the field on the Wolfpack’s defense in a blowout to capture a key ACC win. Turnabout is fair play it seems because State did much of the same on Thursday night, pulling away at home starting in the second quarter and eventually winding up with a 39-25 victory that makes things even more interesting in the Atlantic division.

The Wolfpack offense stalled out early during the first quarter, including a red zone fumble in front of an amped up crowd at Carter-Finley Stadium, but promptly figured things out and sliced and diced the Cardinals’ defense on their following six drives to take control of the game. Quarterback Ryan Finley outplayed the Heisman winner on the opposite sideline with a steady performance, throwing for 367 yards and a touchdown, while big play machines Nyheim Hines (225 all-purpose yards with two scores) and Jaylen Samuels (104 through the air) both were terrific in the open field. Wideout Kelvin Harmon chipped in with 133 yards and a touchdown catch as well.

As well as the offense played however, the home team never could quite put the game away until late in the fourth quarter. Of course, a lot of that had to do with the dazzling play of Lamar Jackson. The signal-caller recorded a 354 yard (one touchdown) night using his arm and not surprisingly led the team in rushing with 73 yards and two scores. He was very much a one-man band for his team given the defensive woes and played heroically in the face of a lot of pressure from the Wolfpack’s stellar defensive line that helped record four sacks and played a role in forcing a pass that was tipped, intercepted and run back for a touchdown that iced the game.

The victory, one of the biggest of Doeren’s career in Raleigh given the circumstances, presents an intriguing road to the division title as the Wolfpack remain undefeated in ACC play. While No. 2 Clemson remains a favorite to return to the national title game at the moment, N.C. State did nearly pull off the upset of the Tigers last year and host this year’s meeting on November 4th. That game could not only decide the Atlantic Division in the conference, but could play a significant role in the College Football Playoff selection process as well.

But those are thoughts for another day and another week as Thursday night belonged to the Wolfpack as they savored a very sweet victory over the Cardinals.

No. 24 N.C. State leading No. 17 Louisville at halftime of ACC clash

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Oh what a difference a year makes for N.C. State and Louisville.

After a lopsided result that was not in their favor last season, the 24th-ranked Wolfpack are giving No. 17 Louisville everything they can handle on both sides of the ball to lead 17-10 at halftime of an intriguing ACC battle down in Raleigh.

Neither team could get much going offensively in the first quarter, with Heisman winner Lamar Jackson being well contained by that tough NCSU defensive line led by Bradley Chubb. Once the clock ticked over to the second quarter however, both offenses started to get going with some big plays.

Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley (268 yards, one touchdown) kicked things off, lobbing a perfectly thrown pass into the waiting arms of Kelvin Harmon for a 48-yard touchdown. State tacked on a field goal on their ensuing possession following a 79 yard catch and run by superstar all-purpose threat Jaylen Samuels and then scored again just before the break. We’ll see if the team can keep that second quarter momentum up despite losing starting center Garrett Bradbury with a chest injury but their final two drives without him bodes well for them to do just that.

Jackson and the Cardinals also found a little bit of a rhythm in the second frame, as the dual-threat signal-caller racked up 190 yards through the air by halftime. He found Seth Dawkins for the team’s only touchdown early in the second quarter, which was a bobbling affair down near the end zone before the wideout hauled it in for the score.

There are a ton of major sporting events going on Thursday night but the lone college football game on the slate has turned out to be a pretty good one despite the relative low score. We’ll see if either side can make some big adjustments — especially defensively for the higher ranked team — in order to pull out a key win in the ACC Atlantic race.

Florida State looked sluggish and sloppy in first half vs. N.C. State, as expected

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Florida State, as many probably expected, looked like a team that has not played a game in three weeks after one half of play in Tallahassee against N.C. State. The visiting Wolfpack took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and hold a 17-7 advantage on the Seminoles at halftime in Doak Campbell Stadium.

Ryan Finley completed a 71-yard touchdown to Jakobi Meyers, who performed some acrobatics across the goal line (which was flagged, although the score counted) for the 17-7 lead in the second quarter.

Florida State seemed to get in sync in the second quarter. After two series on the field resulting in a pair of three-and-outs and a total of one yard of offense, Blackman and the Noles put their first drive together to the tune of 12 plays and 75 yards. Blackman capped the drive with a pass to Auden Tate from the four-yard line, but it was this key 3rd and 8 play that suggested Blackman had gotten comfortable for the first time in the game. A dropback pass to Tate went for 24 yards, and the placement of the pass could not have been much better.

That momentum did not seem to last too long, however. Florida State fumbled the ball away in crazy fashion on their next offensive series and later missed a field goal from the NC State 13-yard line. Blackman had a nice spin move to get away from a tackler, but he lost control of the football toward the end of his run, leading to a massive shift in momentum in bizarre fashion.

The play was reviewed to determine if Blackman’s knee had hit the ground prior to the fumble. After the review, the call on the field was upheld, and N.C. state recovered the ball at their two-yard line.

N.C. State’s first two offensive possessions were good for a combined 22 plays and over 120 yards and 10 points.

No charges filed against NC State players accused of sexual assault

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Serious allegations won’t linger for three current and two former North Carolina State football players, at least legally.

Friday, Wake County District Attorney Lorrin Freeman announced that her office will not pursue charges against Antoine Thompson, Kevince Brown, Isaiah Moore, Erin Collins and Xavier Lyas in connection to allegations of sexual assault stemming from an on-campus party in July. Three women who were at the party claimed that they were sexually assaulted in one way or another, including one who alleged she may have been raped by 7-10 unnamed men.

“Our office has undertaken a detailed review of the information provided from the investigation conducted by North Carolina State University police,” Freeman said. “The evidence does not support moving forward with a criminal prosecution. …

“Under North Carolina law, a conviction for second-degree rape or sexual battery requires a finding that force was used in the commission of the assault and that the assault was against the will of the victim, or that the victim was mentally incapacitated, mentally disabled or physically helpless at the time of the assault.

“Can we say that this is a situation that warrants a criminal prosecution where we can meet that threshold of beyond a reasonable doubt? In this case, we simply are not there.”

According to Freeman, her office reviewed statements made on both sides of the allegations as well as the statements of other witnesses, university security video footage, messages between the parties involved, and consultations with toxicology experts in deciding not to proceed with charges. Warrants to search the cars, rooms and phones of football players, and the information the executed warrants brought forth, were used in the decision-making process as well.

All five players were subject to disciplinary measures because of violations of State’s Student-Athlete Code of Conduct, not because of the allegations of sexual assault but, officially, for attending a party where alcohol and marijuana were present.

Thompson, a linebacker, and Brown, a defensive end, were dismissed from Dave Doeren‘s football team as a result of the off-field incident. Moore, a linebacker, and the two defensive linemen, Collins and Lyas, were indefinitely suspended. Despite the legal resolution, that trio will remain suspended until a Title IX investigation, which has already commenced, is completed.

“I continue to respect due process and these student-athletes remain suspended from competition until the conclusion of the University’s investigation,” the Wolfpack head coach in a statement. “As I said previously, I will be firm, but fair when it comes to discipline. We have a team full of young men committed to representing the University with integrity and respect.”

“We appreciate the hard work of University Police and the consultation of the District Attorney’s office,” said NCSU chancellor Randy Woodson. “The university’s student conduct review continues, and appropriate action will be taken if violations are found.”

South Carolina uses goal-line stand to survive NC State

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South Carolina returned a kickoff for a touchdown and turned two fumbles into touchdowns and still needed a deflection inside its own end zone to survive NC State, holding on for a 35-28 win in Charlotte.

Deebo Samuel started the year for the Gamecocks as well as he possibly could, taking the opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown. The game turned into a shootout for there.

NC State answered Samuel’s touchdown with a 14-play, 75-yard drive capped by a 6-yard Ryan Finley scoring run. South Carolina answered that answer when Jake Bentley found Rico Dowdle for a 34-yard score at the 3:53 mark of the first quarter.

And NC State again responded, this time on a 2-yard Nyheim Hines run to close the first quarter in a 14-14 tie.

South Carolina’s Chris Lammons forced a fumble by NC State receiver Stephon Lewis inside NC State territory, and South Carolina capitalized on a 6-yard toss from Bentley to Samuel at the 10:02 mark of the second quarter.

NC State tied the game again with its third lengthy drive of the half — 79 yards in 10 plays — closing on a 4-yard strike from Finely to Jakobi Meyers.

South Carolina opened the second half with two straight scores. The first came on a 39-yard strike from Bentley (17-of-29 for 215 yards and three touchdowns with one interception)

to Samuel on the ‘Cocks opening touch of the second half, and the third came two plays after another Wolfpack fumble inside its own territory; Dowdle staked South Carolina to a 35-21 lead on a 7-yard dash at the 9:08 mark of the third quarter.

That would be the last output from South Carolina’s offense, while its defense had to survive an onslaught of plays from NC State. The Wolfpack ran 99 plays, 64 of them passes from Finley.

A 4th-and-goal completion from Finely to Jaylen Samuels (15 catches for 85 yards) pulled NC State within seven at the 12:21 mark of the fourth quarter, but the pair could not hook up again after NC State moved to a 1st-and-goal from the South Carolina 8-yard line with 24 seconds remaining. Finley (45-of-64 for 415 yards for two touchdowns with no interceptions) fired three incomplete passes surrounded by one sack, allowing South Carolina to escape with the win.

The victory pushed South Carolina to 1-0 for the 17th time in 18 tries since the turn of the century and 3-0 in Charlotte openers. The Gamecocks also beat East Carolina at Bank of America Stadium to open the 2011 season and toppled North Carolina to begin the ’15 campaign. NC State (0-1) fell to 26-28-4 against South Carolina all-time and 0-3 since the turn of the century.