Lail: An Explosive Beginning to an Explosive Night

Last Saturday night's NC State win over Richmond should've been one of the most celebratory games in recent Wolfpack history.

State wasn't taking on a stellar program; the I-AA Spiders won just two games a season ago. But that's just the point. There was hardly an empty seat anywhere to be found inside Carter-Finley Stadium ... for a game against Richmond ... a game that the Pack would win going away ... on Labor Day weekend, the last chance for many families to hit the beach one final time for the summer.

Despite those elements, which in the past would've equaled generous attendance estimates of around 45,000 or so, the mood and atmosphere inside Carter-Finley was the kind you would expect for a much bigger game - such as when the Ohio State Buckeyes come to town next week.

Unfortunately, the highlights of the evening - beautiful weather, a capacity crowd, accuracy and poise by QB Jay Davis, yet another blocked punt, a solid defensive effort, etc. - were disastrously marred by the tragedy that took place outside the stadium before the game ever began.

By now, almost everyone within the state, and many folks across the country, know that two young men were shot and killed while tailgating before the State-Richmond game. While reports seem to be conflicting on what exactly led up to the shootings, we do know this: Several very poor decisions were made by a handful of folks, snowballing and eventually resulting into an excruciatingly awful outcome. Now two lives are over, and the lives of many - not just those of Tony and Timothy Johnson, the two brothers accused of the slayings, but also those of their alleged accessories after the fact, family members and friends - have been altered forever.

If there is a positive from the tragedy it is that no children were seriously injured or killed. If reports are true that Tony Johnson was driving recklessly and speeding through the fairgrounds parking lot, which is a dangerously clogged place in which to drive even at a safe speed, then it is comforting to know that someone's little boy or girl wasn't run over while tossing a football around before the game. It is also a positive that no one else was shot when Johnson and his brother returned with a gun later on. For that, we should all be thankful. That doesn't, however, negate the fact that now there are two sons gone forever and two brothers that may be going away for a very long time. And all over some short-sighted, extremely stupid decisions.

ACC Rankings - One Man's Opinion
1. Miami: Hurricanes have owned the Seminoles in recent years, and that trend should continue.
2. Florida State: FSU needs to shake off the ghosts of games past with "U."
3. Maryland: Terps did it again: A Fridge Era staple has been winning the close games.
4. Virginia: Boy, Marques Hagans sure quieted the skeptics - for one game, at least.
5. NC State: Boy, Jay Davis sure quieted the skeptics - for one game at least.
6. Clemson: Ultra-hyped Tigers got a "wake"-up call from the Deacs.
7. Virginia Tech: Hokies can show the ACC and the nation that hanging with USC wasn't a fluke.
8. Wake Forest: Jim Grobe may prepare his team better than any other in the ACC.
9. Georgia Tech: A win at Clemson could do wonders for the Jackets' confidence - and would earn Tech some much-needed respect.
10. North Carolina: A good performance in Charlottesville (a hall of horrors for UNC) could help people forget that the Heels were a few plays away from losing to William & Mary.
11. Duke: Blue Devils already looking forward to that date with UNC.

This Week's Games
Florida State at Miami (Friday): The 'Canes probably want this one to - again - come down to a field goal. Don't be surprised if it does come down to a kick; however, let's go with ... Miami 28, Wide Right U. 21

Duke at Connecticut: The perception out there (by some, maybe a few) may be that Duke should win this one. But anyone who has watched the Huskies' program grow over the past few years will expect a different outcome. UConn 42, Duke 21

Western Michigan at Virginia Tech: Bryan Randall and the Hokies looked better than expected against defending national champs Southern Cal. This time around, the Hokies will look all-world. VPI & SU 34, WMU 10

North Carolina at Virginia: Once again, it will be up to the UNC offense to carry the load. Unfortunately for the Heels, UVa's weapons are just as explosive. And Virginia's defense is a tad more stout than W&M's. Wahoos 32, Heels 21

Temple at Maryland: The Owls have a week to correct what went wrong at Virginia. They need a little more time. Jim Henson's alma mater 45, Bill Cosby's alma mater 17

Wake Forest at East Carolina: The Demon Deacons can respond after a devastating loss at Clemson. And East Carolina, which gave up about a million yards on the ground to West Virginia, is the perfect place to do it. Wake 27, ECU 14

Georgia Tech at Clemson: Wake probably didn't do Tech a favor by taking Clemson to the wire on Saturday. The Tigers should be nice and prepared. Clemson 27, Georgia Tech 13

Prognostication Record So Far (based on picking the correct winner only): 7-0

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