by Mike Potter
CARTER-FINLEY STADIUM/RALEIGH N.C. State gets one of those perfect “football weather” days for its battle against Georgia Tech.
Sunny and 60 with a steady breeze and a tiny chance of rain.
The Wolfpack (2-2, 0-1 ACC) is badly in need of a victory, but will be a 10-point underdog against No. 21 Georgia Tech (4-0, 1-0). State beat the Yellow Jackets 45-28 last season in Atlanta, but that was then and this is now.
Tech is averaging 630.5 yards per game in its ground-oriented, physical option offense, and State has a beaten-up defense.
DE Jeff Rieskamp (shoulder) and LB Terrell Manning are among the headliners (knee) are the headliners of a long defensive injury list, while the Wolfpack is also missing leading rusher Curtis Underwood (knee).
Tech takes a big lead before the Wolfpack scores two touchdowns in the final 34 seconds, escaping with a 45-35 victory.
Tech, which has no such injury woes, completely dominates the first quarter. The Jackets go up 7-0 with 10:35 left in the period as Orwin Smith’s 13-yard run completes a 10-play, 64-yard drive and Justin Moore adds the boot. The key play is Jemea Thomas’ 27-yard run on a direct snap on a fake punt.
The Jackets go up 14-0 at 3:34, as Smith goes in from nine yards out and Moore converts at the end of a six-play, 68-yard march.
Tech stretches the lead to 21-0 at 14:55 of the third, as Tevin Washington hits David Sims for a nine-yard score with Moore tacking on the boot.
State finally draws blood with 1:15 left, when Mike Glennon connects with a wide-open Jay Smith for a nine-yard TD pass with Niklas Sade adding the try.
James Washington cuts the lead to 21-14 with 13:22 left in the third on a 46-yard scoring run with Sade booting.
It stays there for over 15 minutes before the Jackets responded with three quick touchdowns.
Smith scores on a two-yard run with 12:29 to go, and then just 14 seconds later Isaiah Johnson’s 34-yard interception return to the house help put Tech up 35-14.
Roddy Jones’ 28-yard reception from Washington helps stretch it to 42-14.
Glennon hits Tyler Purvis with a one-yard scoring pass at 7:47 before the Jackets responds with a Moore field goal at 5:38.
State makes the last minute exciting with a 13-yard TD pass from Tyler Brosius to Purvis with 34 seconds to go, and then Brandan Bishop’s 33-yard fumble return finishes the scoring.
Smith leads Tech with 74 yards and the three TDs on nine carries and also caught a 30-yard pass. Tevin Washington is 4-for-2 for 117 yards and two TDs, also rushing for 43 yards on 16 carries.
James Washington has a career-high 131 yards and a TD on 20 carries and caught five passes for 35 yards. Tony Creecy chips in 77 yards rushing on 12 carries.
Glennon is 20-for-29 for 163 yards with a pair of TDs and an interception. Captain and defensive tackle J.R. Sweezy (broken foot) returns to action for the first time all season, playing only at defensive end and recording a pair of tackles including a sack.
They said it …
State coach Tom O’Brien: “The fake punt was devastating. We’ve (almost) got them off the field, but then they go down and score. Our inability not to make mistakes hurt us. … (Sweezy) told me at the end of the game he felt good. Now we’ll have to see how he wakes up in the morning. I think we used him right … we didn’t put him at defensive tackle where he’s more likely to get chopped.”
Tech coach Paul Johnson: “I don’t think we practiced well this week, and we played that way. You’ve got to play your best, and we didn’t play our best. We have to go back and learn to get better. They went on that long drive in the second it ate up the whole quarter.”
Glennon: “We did a good job in the second quarter. We got some momentum going into the half and I thought we were going to turn it around. (But) they had the No. 1 offense in the country and it wasn’t enough.”
James Washington: “We did a lot of studying and practiced well this week. When the lights go on, you’ve got to play your position and your assignments and do what you’re supposed to do.”
What does it all mean?
That the Wolfpack is going to need a breakthrough pretty soon to have a successful football season.
Stars of the game
2. T. Washington.
3. J. Washington.
Play of the game
Johnson’s interception return for the touchdown.
Tech leads 18-10.
State: Lost 2.
Tech: Won 5.
Georgia Tech at Maryland, Oct. 8, noon
State vs. Central Michigan, Oct. 8, 3:30 p.m.