The celebration did not go as planned. NC State will not complain.
On Saturday the Wolfpack got the victory it craved over Notre Dame is the most strangest of ways. NC State's, 10-3, win over the Irish will provide many memories and, given the enormity of the situation both from a historical perspective and as it pertains to the current state of the football program, created heroes that a grateful Wolfpack fan base will not soon forget.
There was Dexter Wright, who provided NC State with the game's only touchdown on a scoop-and-score following a blocked punt. Wright, a redshirt sophomore out of Wilson (NC), may ultimately go on to have a stellar career with the Wolfpack but the magic his score likely will be what he is most remembered for -- not that there is an ounce of shame in that.
Pharoah McKever blocked the punt that Wright was able to take into the end zone for the game-winning touchdown. It added to the fascinating legacy McKever has carved out for himself at NC State. The interception return for a touchdown at Syracuse was a momentum-changing play for Dave Doeren's program in 2014. His heroics versus Notre Dame may actually trump that romp across the turf in the Carrier Dome two seasons ago.
Three games removed from a sickening loss to East Carolina, and staring at trips to Clemson and Louisville in the next two weeks, NC State's win did not just move the Wolfpack closer to becoming eligible for a bowl berth for a third straight season, it also validated the week-by-week approach the team has been taking since the loss in Greenville.
"I think we just take each win, one win at a time," McKever said. "We have got a 24-hour rule. We focus on one game at a time. When it is time to go to Clemson and Louisville we will focus on them."
While the singular focus approach has been working, Doeren knows the task NC State faces going forward. He briefly allowed himself to think in broader terms.
"[It's] just a great team win," Doeren said. "I'm really proud of them, it puts us in a good spot continuing to build momentum as we move forward. Tough conditions to play a game in, but boy it was fun."
He then spoke of the game in its historical context.
"Making history is why you do this, being a part of something special," Doeren said "It is a landmark for your program, for your players....This will be the Monsoon Bowl or whatever you guys nickname it as, to be able to do it on the 50th anniversary, it was awesome."
While it remains to be seen just how the result will impact the Wolfpack for the remainder of the current campaign, in the end NC State had a victory that will endure in the rich histories of both the program and of its home field.
It took 50 years but there never has been such an ugly day at Carter-Finley Stadium that would ultimately finish so beautifully.