Pack Takes Down Bearcats, 30-19

RALEIGH, N.C. -- The Pack got its third-straight win to open the season on Thursday night, taking down Cincinnati 30-19 at Carter-Finley Stadium.

In front of a national television audience on a Thursday night, NC State showed off how good it can be this season.

Everything clicked – Russell Wilson found his rhythm and the Pack offense moved the ball with relative ease. The defense was dominate, giving up a long passing play but otherwise shutting down the Cincinnati offense. Only a few turnovers by the offense kept them Pack from blowing out the Bearcats, allowing them to hang around until a touchdown mid-way through the fourth quarter. The Pack walked off the field with a 30-19 win and 3-0 start to the season.

Wilson finished the game 26-of-40 for 333 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions. The Pack tallied 493 yards of total offense but several drives were derailed by fumbles, including a Jarvis Williams fumble at the 1-yard line of the Bearcats. Williams made up for the fumble with a pair of spectacular catches though, finishing with four grabs for 111 yards. On the ground, Mustafa Greene led the way with 83 yards on 16 carries and one touchdown.

The defense didn't force five turnovers, but the Pack stifled the Bearcats for most of the night with its attacking blitzes that kept the Cincinnati offense out of sync. The defense finished with five total sacks and forced one turnover. The Bearcats hit one long pass before the fourth quarter, a 68-yard touchdown throw, but didn't start giving up big chunks of yards until late in the fourth quarter when the game got out of reach.

After the teams exchanged punts to start the game, the NC State offense flexed its muscle for the first time since the opener. Wilson started the drive with a 29-yard pass to Jarvis Williams and proceeded to march the Pack down the field with a no-huddle offense, going 6-for-6 during a 93-yard drive. Jay Smith capped the drive by scoring his first career touchdown on a 16-yard reception from Wilson to give the Pack an early 7-0 lead.

The defense forced the Pack into another punt, giving Wilson and the offense another chance to put together a 90-plus yard drive. This time the Pack was aided by a big third down penalty when the Bearcats hit Wilson late and gave the Pack a 1st down at the Cincinnati 31-yard line. The Pack only took one play to capitalize on the mistake, as Green took the ball and got around the right edge for a 31-yard touchdown run to give the Pack a 14-point cushion.

The Pack defense shined on the next Cincinnati possession, forcing them to a three-and-out and a 20-yard punt, giving the Pack the ball on its opponent's 25-yard line. But this time the offense couldn't take advantage, giving the ball to the Bearcats on one of the stranger plays in recent memory. Jarvis Williams tipped a pass into the air, which was deflected again by a Bearcat defender, only to have Williams catch the ball out of the air at the 5-yard line. He looked headed for a sure touchdown, but fumbled the ball at the 1-yard line and Cincinnati jumped on it for a touchback.

The defense managed another stop after the Bearcats got into Pack territory for the first time, but the offense turned it over against on its first play of the drive. This time it was Dean Haynes fumbling the ball, giving it over to Cincinnati at the Pack's 32-yard line. But the defense was equal to the task, backing the Bearcats up three yards and forcing a 52-yard field goal that missed low and left.

Cincinnati broke through in the final minutes of the first half, hitting a 68-yard pass play for its first touchdown. The Bearcats had been moving the ball through most of the quarter, but a fumble had kept them off the board on the previous drive. DJ Woods hauled in the pass from Collaros and the speedy receiver beat the Pack secondary down field to cut the lead to a touchdown.

But Wilson and the Pack offense responded, marching down the field for a quick score. After penalties or turnovers derailed drives through much of the quarter, Wilson was able to consistently hit running backs in the passing game to move the ball. The touchdown pass appropriately went to one of his backs, as Curtis Underwood hauled in a 12-yard reception. Czajkowski missed the extra point, breaking a streak of 83 straight makes, to make it 20-7 going into the half.

After a defensive stop to begin the second half, the offense put together another scoring drive to go up by 16 points. The 14-yard drive lasted over five minutes, but the Pack couldn't punch it in the endzone. The drive stalled at the 2-yard line when Wilson tried to lob a pass into the back of the end to George Bryan but the ball went off his hands and out of bounds. Czajkowski drilled a 19-yard field goal to make the score 23-7.

The Pack put the game out of reach mid-way through the fourth quarter, after a blocked punt gave the Pack offense possession at the Cincinnati 25-yard line. Wilson took advantage, hitting Taylor Gentry out of the flat for an 8-yard touchdown. The Bearcats would tack on two more scores to make the final score 30-19.

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