VA -- Brandon Pace's 43-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right as time expired, and NC State escaped from Blacksburg
with a 17-16 win in a critical ACC matchup. Pace's miss capped a defensive struggle that saw the game decided by special
teams, as Hokie punter Vinnie Burns dropped a snap deep in Tech territory in the third quarter, leading to the deciding
The Hokies set up Pace's field goal attempt with their longest drive of the day, taking over at their own 6 yard line
with 2:44 to go and driving from there to the Wolfpack 24-yard line on the strength of a 38-yard completion from Bryan
Randall to sophomore David Clowney on 3rd and 18. Clowney's catch put the ball at the NCSU 26-yard line, and after two
plays that gained 2 yards, Pace had a chance to win it but missed on a clean snap and hold.
The miss was Pace's second miss of the game. He tried five field goals on the day and made three, missing a 33-yarder
in the first quarter that proved to be a major factor in the game. He made field goals of 23, 32, and 37 yards in the
middle portions of the game but couldn't come through when the Hokies needed him most.
NC State's defense, the top-rated defense in the country coming into the game, held the Hokies to just 192 yards of
offense on the day. 166 of those 192 yards came on Tech's final four possessions, as the Hokies struggled offensively
throughout the game. NC State sacked Randall 10 times for 78 yards in losses, and the Hokies seemed to have no answer
for State's blitzes and defensive pressure.
The Hokies played well defensively, holding the Wolfpack to 223 yards of offense. State quarterbacks Jay Davis and
Marcus Stone completed just 6 of 17 passes for 78 yards. NC State tailback T.A. McClendon was also held in check most of
the day, though he did rush for 93 yards on 12 carries.
State's two touchdowns came on drives of just 34 and 5 yards. The Wolfpack scored their first TD on a 6-yard run by
McClendon late in the second quarter, finishing a 6-play, 34-yard drive that started on the Tech 34 after Vinnie Burns
had punted from the Tech 2-yard line. The Hokies had taken possession on their 20-yard line with 6:10 to go in the half,
and two sacks by the Wolfpack pushed the Hokies back to the 2.
That State TD tied it 10-10, which is where it stood at half time. Neither team gained a first down in the third
quarter, but State got a big break when Tech punter Vinnie Burns dropped a punt snap at the Hokie 5-yard line with 5:44
to go in the third quarter. Two rushes by McLendon put the ball at the one-yard line, and backup State QB Marcus Stone
(2-of-7, 14 yards), went over the right side of the line for a 1-yard TD with 4:31 to go in the third quarter. That put
State up 17-10, and that was enough to hold up for the rest of the game.
Tech tailback Mike Imoh returned after a 3-game suspension and had 74 yards on 14 carries, including a 41-yard carry
on a draw play that set up the Pace field goal that closed the gap to 17-13. Cedric Humes and Justin Hamilton were
snuffed, combing for 8 carries for 1 yards. Randall had 50 yards rushing on 9 carries but lost another 78 yards on
State's 10 sacks. The Hokies didn't record a single sack for the game, though their defensive line played well and had
five and a half tackles for loss. In a bad sign, the Hokies were led in tackles by two defensive backs with 7, Vince
Fuller and James Griffin.
In the end, what killed the Hokies were the touchdowns they gift-wrapped for the Wolfpack. After making a field goal
in their first possession, State only scored off the short field (starting from the Tech 34 after a punt and the Tech 5
after Burns' dropped snap). VT also missed two field goals, a 33-yard chippie and the 43-yard game winner.
The Wolfpack drew first blood in this game, taking their opening possession from their 35 to the Tech 35, where
kicker John Deraney nailed a 53-yard field goal to put the Pack up 3-0. On State's next possession, Tech safety Vince
Fuller picked off State starting QB Jay Davis in the end zone. Fuller returned the ball to the Tech 14, where he
lateraled to Eric Green, who motored 47 yards up the right sideline to the State 39-yard line.
The Hokies penetrated to State's 9-yard line on a great catch by Duane Brown but failed to capitalize on the turnover
when Pace missed a 33-yard field goal.
The Wolfpack gave the Hokies another golden opportunity when backup QB Marcus Stone dropped a snap, and Tech's Jim
Davis recovered at the State 36-yard line. The Hokies pushed the ball to the State 7-yard line and then scored on a
play-action pass to fullback John Kinzer on third down from the State 4-yard line. That made it 7-3 Hokies early in the
The Hokies continued to win the field position battle when Eddie Royal returned a punt to the State 15-yard line.
Randall ran for a first-down at the Wolfpack 5-yard line, but the drive stalled and Pace kicked a 23-yard field goal for
a 10-3 Tech lead. That lead turned into a 10-10 tie with McLendon's 6-yard TD with just 1:14 to go in the half.
Then came the defensive struggle of the third quarter, with neither team picking up a first down. Tech lost 28 yards
on four third quarter possessions, and State gained just 29 yards on four possessions. But the Wolfpack took the 17-10
lead on Stone's TD after the dropped punt snap by Burns.
The Hokie offense, which had accumulated just 7 total yards with 2:52 to go in the third quarter, came to life in the
fourth quarter and chipped the lead to 17-13 (32-yard FG by Pace) and then 17-16 (37 yard FG by Pace) with 8:10 to go.
The two teams continued to slug it out for the remainder of the fourth quarter, and the Hokies took over on their own
6-yard line with 2:44 to go and no timeouts. Randall hit Josh Morgan for 23 yards and then connected with Josh Hyman for
an 8-yard gain on 4th and 3 to move the ball to the Hokie 44-yard line with 1:13 to go. After Randall was sacked, he
struck downfield, hitting David Clowney for a 38-yard gain to the State 26-yard line with 22 seconds to go.
Randall scrambled for 2 yards and then spiked the ball with 3 seconds left to go, setting up Pace's 43-yard field
goal attempt. The snap and hold were clean, and Pace simply pushed the ball right, and the Hokies went down to defeat.
here for TSL's post-game analysis