by Sean Donohue
As it's the last home game of the season, the crowd cheers on the 20-plus seniors who are honored. The loss of players include captains Nate Irving and starting quarterback Russell Wilson, who actually already graduated in May.
NC State's true freshman Chris Hawthorne kicks off and the Demon Deacons only make it 19 yards before slamming into the Wolfpack line. After cruising over midfield, Wake Forest loses momentum and Shane Popham punts for a touchback.
Overall, N.C. State shuts Wake Forest down with a 38-3 win.
Wilson leads his team down field and, with some key first downs, makes it to the Wake 9. Hawthorne hits a field goal making it 3-0 Wolfpack. In the second quarter, the Demon Deacons strike back and tie with a 19 yard field goal by Jimmy Newman. Their 15-play, 57-yard drive was complimented by rushing star Michael Companaro in a majority of the plays.
With 8:32 left in the 2nd quarter, the crowd roars as State's Jarvis Williams catches a 50-yard pass to land on the 14. Williams again grabs a quick 4 yard bullet for the touchdown and Hawthorne completes the extra point. The lightning fast scoring drive of 56 seconds leaves State ahead 10-3.
After multiple back-and-forth attempts at scoring, the second quarter passes by with neither team gaining too much ground until 1:02 left. The Deacons trudge into Wolfpack territory and find themselves on fourth down at the 2-yard line. Should they play it safe and kick a field goal, or go for the six and risk losing the ground that they've gained? Wake Forest decides to risk it and is punished hard and fast by the Wolfpack defense. With a loss of 1, its State's ball on their own 4. The crowd erupts at the rock hard defense as the 1st half comes to a close.
Starting the 2nd half, State charges up field and widens its lead with a 38-yard pass from Wilson to Owen Spencer for the touchdown. Hawthorne is successful and the Wolfpack's 6-play, 66 yard drive makes it 17-3.
To add insult to injury, the Wolfpack defense again shuts down the Demon Deacons and Wilson not only leads his team down field, but rushes for yet another touchdown. Hawthorne makes it 7, and the score is 24-3 Wolfpack.
State fans are feeling lively, and show their support with an ear-deafening “Wolf” followed by “Pack” from the opposite side of the arena. With almost 60,000 Pack fans jeering, all the sliver of Wake fans can do is sit in shame. Most realize that this game will make it eight in a row that the Deacons have lost.
The Wolfpack continues to roll Wilson once again scoring. With an extra point by Hawthorne, the 6-play, 52 yard, 2:27 drive makes it 31-3.
Assured of victory, State pulls Wilson out with 9 minutes left and lets Mike Glennon have a shot at the feeble Deacon defense. Wake Forest seems helpless to the onslaught as Glennon hands off to James Washington for the touchdown. Hawthorne again completes making it 38-3 NC State with 7:42 left in the game.
The scoring finally ceases and the game concludes with a whopping score of 38-3. Irving ends the day with 13 tackles, including a career-high eight for loss. That tackles-for-loss total breaks the school record of six, which was set by first-round NFL Draft pick Mario Williams against Southern Miss in 2005.
The Wolfpack hit hard, ran fast, and stopped the Demon Deacons in their tracks. I don't think State fans could ask for more when concerning the team's last home game.
They said it …
NC State Coach Tom O'Brien: “It was a good day for our seniors. We knew it would be a dogfight and we had to hang in there and find opportunities-especially in our running. Its a great day for Nate (Irving). Its amazing that he has been able to come from a hospital bed to breaking records in our last home game. Russell (Wilson) is a great leader. I think everyone on offense was afraid to make a mistake cause they knew he would be on them. We're happy for today. Its the first time since 2003 that we've won 7 games here. We have to get back on the road, and its a tough road. This time the road goes through Chapel Hill.”
Wake Forest Coach Jim Grobe: “Thought we played hard, NC State is a really good team and they're tough to beat. The first half went exactly how we wanted it to go except for the fact that we only scored three points. We just didn't make all the plays that we needed to make in order to win the game.”
Russell Wilson: “Definitely an exciting game for our seniors. But we have more work to do. I love this football team and everyday I push myself to be the best I can be. I try to make sure everyone on the team does that too. We can be special but we have to work for it everyday. (This team) has a great opportunity and we'll see what happens.”
Nate Irving: “I credit this game to the D-line and the coaches. I think about where I've come from all the time. Just to see the fans so happy and cheering and to have the opportunity to play for them, it was definitely emotional. You want to keep building the team every year and, not to look too far ahead, but next year's team I feel is going to be even better. I feel pretty good going to Carolina. If we just play every down, we'll be a good team.”
What does it all mean?
Although a great win for the Wolfpack, there's a tough road ahead of the team as it continues to try for the championship.
Stars of the game
1. Nate Irving
2. Russell Wilson
3. Owen Spencer
Play of the game
Jarvis Williams' 50 yard catch in the 2nd quarter for the touchdown.
Wolfpack Leads 61-36-6
NC State won 1.
Wake Forest lost 7.
N.C. State at UNC, Nov. 13, noon
Clemson at Wake Forest, Nov. 13, 2 p.m.