NC State holds a 14-3 lead over Vanderbilt at halftime of the Independence Bowl. And with the way Vanderbilt’s offense performed through the first two quarters, an 11-point separation might as well be 100.
Vanderbilt opened the scoring when Tommy Openshaw concluded an 8-play, 46-yard drive with a 52-yard field goal at the 6:06 mark of the first quarter. But as Vanderbilt’s offense gave the ‘Dores the lead, their next possession did the opposite. Kyle Shurmur was intercepted in his own territory, and NC State capitalized when Ryan Finley hit Jaylen Samules for a 9-yard scoring strike at the 9:08 mark of the second quarter to give the Wolfpack the lead.
The Commodores marched 62 yards in seven snaps on their next possession, but Openshaw’s 27-yard try was a duck that sailed wide left. Vanderbilt had a great opportunity to take a late lead before the halftime gun, accepting the ball at its own 36 with 3:09 remaining, but punted just 55 seconds later.
After the punt, Finley again found Samuels — this time on a 55-yard snatch-and-dash that gave NC State its second score of the day at the 1:24 mark of the half. Finley closed the half connecting on 14-of-17 throws for 164 yards with two touchdowns while rushing three times for 19 yards, and Samuels netted eight grabs for 87 yards and both of the scores. NC State has also rushed for 87 yards on 19 attempts.
Shurmur struggled mightily to throw the ball, completing 6-of-18 passes for 63 yards with an interception. The ‘Dores have rushed for 94 yards on 16 carries, but 45 of them came on one Trent Sherfield carry.
Vanderbilt will receive to open the second half.