Matt Dayes rushed for 104 yards in his final regular season game and NC State held on late to defeat North Carolina, 28-21, at Kenan Stadium Friday.
With the win, the Wolfpack concludes the regular season 6-6 overall and 3-5 in the ACC. NC State is bowl eligible for the third straight season. North Carolina drops to 8-4 and 5-3 in league play. The Tar Heels were eliminated from contention in the Coastal Division and the 2016 ACC Championship Game is now set with Clemson taking on Virginia Tech.
NC State has defeated North Carolina seven times in the last 10 seasons, including four out of five meetings in Chapel Hill during that span.
The Pack jumped out early when Jaylen Samuels took a swing pass from Ryan Finley and then threw to Stephen Louis for a 59-yard touchdown. Less than two minutes later, Dayes barreled into the end zone from a yard out to double NC State's advantage. The senior added another touchdown with 10:33 remaining in the first half to hand NC State a 21-0 lead.
Dayes passed Ray Robinson for fourth all-time in rushing yards (2,809) and tied T.A. McLendon for touchdowns in his career with 33. NC State had 259 yards on the ground in the contest.
The Tar Heels scored prior to halftime. Nyheim Hines fumbled in NC State territory and Ryan Switzer later hauled in 4-yard touchdown pass from Mitch Trubisky to narrow the gap. Switzer finished with 13 catches for 171 yards.
After Samuels scored on an end-around midway through the third quarter to increase the Wolfpack's advantage to 28-7 North Carolina then scored two touchdowns in the fourth to bring the Heels within one score.
Ryan Finley (11-for-18, 151 yards) was knocked out of the contest late and sophomore Jalan McClendon took over. McClendon, facing a third down, ran for a gain of 14 yards. The rush sealed the victory as North Carolina had used all of its timeouts.
As the seconds ticked away an emotional NC State head coach Dave Doeren embraced members of his team. The Wolfpack then exited Kenan Stadium to cheers from a loud contingent of supporters near the tunnel to get to the locker room.
The Wolfpack now awaits its postseason fate. NC State has been to 28 bowls in its history and sports a 15-12-1 record in the postseason.