Jaylen Samuels scored three touchdown, Nyheim Hines returned a kickoff for a score and Niles Clark concluded his college career with an interception return for a touchdown to lead NC State past Vanderbilt 41-17 at Independence Stadium in the 2016 Camping World Independence Bowl.
The Wolfpack finish the 2016 campaign 7-6 overall with the victory. It is the third straight season NC State has posted a winning record and the Pack's thrashing of the Commodores marks the first time State has beat a SEC school since 1999 (South Carolina).
"We played physical and I thought we played really hard,' NC State head coach Dave Doeren said. "The way they played tonight, they really wanted that win and you could see it."
NC State drove the opening kickoff into Vanderbilt territory but Matt Dayes fumbled to end the march downfield. Another drive stalled when the Wolfpack was stopped on fourth and goal inside the 5-yard line. Vanderbilt scored first when Tommy Openshaw nailed an Independence Bowl record 52-yard field goal in the first quarter.
The Wolfpack then took control. Ryan Finley (19-for-30 for 235 yards and three touchdowns) twice found Samuels in the second quarter and NC State went into the locker room at halftime with a 14-3 advantage.The Pack would never trail again.
Samuels took offensive player of the game honors while Airius Moore, who finished with a team-best nine tackles and two sacks, won on the defensiveside of the ball.
The duo of Finley and Samuels hooked up for a score again to push NC State's lead to 28-3 with 5:34 left in the third quarter. Six minutes earlier, Reggie Gallaspy II scored from five yards out for his first score since the second game of the season against East Carolina.
"Just get him the ball as much as possible," Finley said of Samuels. "We call it "J-Sam Time." Sometimes it is J-Sam Time even if he's covered, just throw him the ball."
Vanderbilt rallied with two touchdowns to narrow the gap to 11 points with 10:37 remaining.
Hines then eliminated any doubt. His 100-yard return was the second time in his college career he ran for a touchdown on a kickoff. NC State was never seriously threathened again.
On the final play of the game, Niles Clark picked off a Kyle Shurmur pass and ran it 32 yards for a touchdown to cap off a magical evening for the Wolfpack. Trae Meadows also had an interception in the rout.null