by Joe Schwartz
ESPNU - Russell Wilson's interception-free streak was broken and missed tackles again plagued N.C. State as the Wolfpack went down 30-24 to Wake Forest on Saturday in the team's first road and conference game of the year.
The contest ended up a shootout between Wilson and Demon Deacon signal-caller Riley Skinner, who ended the game with 354 yards and three TDs through the air. Wilson did just about everything to keep his team in the game, scrambling for a touchdown, and picking up huge third-down conversions, once on a Brett Favre-style flip pass.
Ultimately though, he made a critical mistake on his team's last drive with just two minutes remaining. His streak of 379 passes attempted without a takeaway already broken in the first half when safety Josh Bush nabbed a deep ball, Wilson saw receiver Donald Bowens on a skinny post route in the end zone. He flung the ball high and wide, the pigskin drifting to the outside when Bowens had made space on the inside. This time Kenny Okoro reeled it in for a touchback. Wilson was visibly frustrated with Bowens, who made no attempt to break up the pick.
The Wolfpack did have a chance to get the ball back as they had all three timeouts, but three players missed tackles that would have forced a fourth down punt, and the game was finished. N.C. State coach Tom O'Brien has been critical of his team's ability to wrap up, with this play the most telling evidence of the season.
On TV: As you can tell from the dateline, I watched this game on ESPNU rather than traveling to Winston-Salem. That means I can't bring you any quotes from the players, as I do each week when the games are at Carter-Finley Stadium, so in lieu of that, here's my favorite lines from announcers Todd Harris and Charles Arbuckle:
1) The two enjoyed some light-hearted moments at the fair across the street from BB&T Field. A pre-taped segment showed Arbuckle eating a powdered-sugar covered fried-Sncikers bar and a funnel cake. Then we get the live shot, where Harris passes a fried stick of butter to Arbuckle, who chomps down and says, "That was good, but I won't ever do it again." ESPN goes back to Rob Stone in the studio who tells the blood-pressure challenged analyst to, "enjoy that angioplasty after the game."
2) This one was too obvious even for Lil Wayne. N.C. State defensive tackle Michael Allen Cash gets two consecutive sacks, and, you guessed it, "He's money."
3) Lastly, I just have to say that if we're going with Cash money references and stooping to that level, how did Harris and Arbuckle avoid any Gelo Orange jokes. The kid plays linebacker for Wake Forest and we didn't get a single Bill Cosby mention in four hours.