For­get any big bowl plans: Wolf­pack stunned by Dea­cons

The News & Observer - - Sports - BY JOE GIGLIO jgiglio@new­sob­

After a big jump in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off rank­ings, N.C. State had plans for a ma­jor bowl ap­pear­ance.

Wake For­est scotched those plans on Thurs­day with an­other stun­ning win over No. 14 N.C. State.

The De­mon Dea­cons, down for all but the fi­nal 30 sec­onds of the game, got a late 32-yard touch­down catch from tight end Jack Freuden­thal to shock the Wolf­pack, 27-23.

After mov­ing up seven spots in the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off rank­ings on Tues­day, N.C. State (6-3, 3-3 ACC) had a chance to play in a ma­jor, New Year’s day bowl game for the first time in school his­tory.

The Wolf­pack needed some help to get to ei­ther the Peach or Fi­esta bowl but it also for­got the most im­por­tant part: tak­ing care of its own busi­ness.

As a 19-point fa­vorite at home, where it had been un­beaten this sea­son, N.C. State couldn’t get the job done. There were too many empty red-zone trips, too many dropped passes and too many big plays al­lowed on de­fense.

“To say that I’m dis­ap­pointed would be an un­der­state­ment,” N.C. State coach Dave Do­eren said. “Ob­vi­ously, as the head coach, I take re­spon­si­bil­ity any time my team doesn’t play the way it can.”

A slug­gish start on “Se­nior Night,” and per­haps mag­ni­fied of the pres­sure of the CFP rank­ings, left the Wolf­pack flat in the first half and then un­able to hold off an un­der­manned but de­ter­mined Wake For­est (5-5, 2-4 ACC) in the fourth quar­ter.

This is the same Wake For­est team that handed N.C. State a 30-24 loss in Win­ston-Salem

last sea­son, which was the Wolf­pack’s big­gest dis­ap­point­ment of the 2017 sea­son.

This loss will ri­val that one. If for no other rea­son, N.C. State usu­ally beats Wake in Raleigh: Since 1986, the Wolf­pack had won 15 of 16 against the Deacs at Carter-Fin­ley Sta­dium.

Wake, with Bos­ton Col­lege one of the reg­u­lar thorns in N.C. State’s side, left Do­eren with­out an ex­pla­na­tion for the costly loss.

“Was it the talk of what we could end up be­ing?” Do­eren said. “Was it the talk of the se­niors and three of­fen­sive line­men be­ing se­niors and be­ing emo­tional at the be­gin­ning of the game? I’m not sure.”

The Deacs, down 13-3 at the half and 23-13 in the fourth quar­ter, just kept hang­ing around.

“Ev­ery time that thing was on the brink of get­ting away from us, we just did one thing to stay in it,” Wake coach Dave Claw­son said.

Sopho­more quar­ter­back Jamie New­man threw for 297 yards and three touch­downs. His poise on Wake’s eight-play, 80yard game-win­ning drive was re­mark­able for a first­time starter.

Fresh­man Sam Hart­man had started the first nine games of the sea­son for Wake un­til he was in­jured late in last Satur­day’s loss to Syra­cuse.

New­man got the ball back with 1 minute, 39 sec­onds left, down 23-20, and pro­ceeded to take what N.C. State’s de­fense was will­ing to give him.

He com­pleted four of his first six passes on the drive, three to fresh­man re­ceiver Sage Sur­ratt (eight catches, 109 yards).

After a tipped pass to Sur­ratt was in­com­plete on first down from the N.C. State 32-yard line, New­man went to Freuden­thal for the first time all game.

Freuden­thal caught the ball over the mid­dle and then Wake re­ceiver Alex Bach­man was able to knock off two N.C. State de­fend­ers on a block.

“We run a blitz and had a bust,” Do­eren said. “We had our safety there to tackle it and he ran into some­body.”

All alone, Freuden­thal ran into the end zone for the win­ning score with 30 sec­onds left.

N.C. State quar­ter­back Ryan Fin­ley (374 yards) got one last gasp from mid­field, but it was in­ter­cepted at the 2-yard line by Scotty Wash­ing­ton.

Ju­nior re­ceiver Kelvin Har­mon had a ca­reer-best 15 catches for N.C. State for 134 yards, but he wasn’t tar­geted in the red zone.

N.C. State couldn’t run the ball on Wake’s de­fense, which had en­tered the game No. 115 in the coun­try against the run. The Wolf­pack fin­ished with 47 yards on 27 car­ries.

N.C. State’s big­gest prob­lems were in the red zone. Three times it had to set­tle for three short field goals, in­stead of be­ing able to score a touch­down.

“We had a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties in that game, a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties,” Do­eren said.

N.C. State hasn’t had many op­por­tu­ni­ties like this one in its his­tory, to play in a New Year’s bowl on col­lege foot­ball’s big­gest stage.

This one is gone now. Wake For­est did them in again.

ETHAN HY­MAN ehy­man@new­sob­

N.C. State wide re­ceiver C.J. Ri­ley tries to stiff-arm Wake For­est de­fen­sive back Amari Hen­der­son dur­ing the Wolf­pack’s 27-23 loss.

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