The Wolfpack (4-4) held off the sputtering Seminoles 20-15 Saturday night, spoiling the home finale for FSU (7-2) and 83,912 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium who witnessed a thrilling special teams comeback cut short.
The victory for N.C. State was its third in five games opposite FSU in series in which each game has been decided by eight points or less during that same span.
"This is a great win for everybody in the Wolfpack Nation," N.C. State coach Chuck Amato said. "I can't say enough about the way these young men fought together, stayed together and believed. I'm thrilled."
Tension preceded jubilation.
Trailing 20-10 with just under six minutes to play, Florida State's Anthony Houlis and Marcello Church blocked punts on consecutive N.C. State drives, giving at their floundering offense a pair of short fields to work with.
The Seminoles cashed in on the first, narrowing the gap to 20-13 on a 48-yard field goal by Gary Cismesia.
The second never stung the 'Pack – FSU quarterback Drew Weatherford threw one of three interceptions, giving the Seminoles nothing to show for a drive that started at the N.C. State 5 thanks to Church's block and a return by Lawrence Timmons.
On second-and-goal, N.C. State corner A.J. Davis stepped in front of Weatherford's slant try for Rod Owens and snared his second pick of the day.
"I could just see it in his eyes," Davis said. "He looked to the corner once and I knew that's where he was headed. It was just a matter of making the play."
Amato elected to have punter John Deraney take a safety three plays after Davis' interception, a gamble that paid off when Weatherford tossed the game-sealing interception to Garland Heath with nine seconds remaining.
"We we're not sharp out there," said FSU coach Bobby Bowden, who lifted the uncharacteristically erratic Weatherford for two in favor of Xavier Lee for a pair of drives
"We had a great week of practice, morale was good, and the kids did everything we asked of them. We we're just not able to get it done."
N.C. State's offense ran through freshman tailback Andre Brown, who accounted for 174 of the 224 total yards that the ‘Pack tallied on his 19 rushes. Brown set the tone on the game's second play from scrimmage with a 65-yard touchdown scamper.
"It was on from there," Brown said. "We had confidence coming in and we knew that we could play with this guys but that really jumpstarted things."
The one-dimensional Seminoles, meanwhile, never established their running game. Playing without starting tailback Leon Washington, FSU managed just 70 yards on the ground. FSU's 281 total yards was by far the lowest output of the season.
"They controlled things, especially up the middle," FSU tailback Lorenzo Booker said. "We had to fight for everything that we got."
Despite the loss, FSU clinched a berth in the ACC Championship game Dec. 3 in Jacksonville. North Carolina's 16-14 victory over Boston College earlier in the day ensured that the Seminoles would win the Atlantic Division.
"No one is thinking about that," Weatherford said. "We're just trying to concentrate on getting better for the next game."
Marcus Stone was a pedestrian 9-of-17 for 85 yards on his way to winning his second career start. No throw was more important than his difference-making 4-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Hill in the closing seconds of the third quarter.
"I was happy to make that play for him," Hill said. "With as many players as we have from Florida, this is like another rivalry game for us."
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