Another Tough Loss

WINSTON-SALEM, NC -- From Jay Davis to Marcus Stone, from Stone to Davis and back again, it didn't really matter who was at quarterback for NC State.

  • Chuck Amato Audio
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    A quarterback controversy arose mid-game with neither being able to set themselves apart from the other in State's 27-19 loss to Wake Forest on Saturday night.

    Davis, who started the game, was 15-of-29 on the day with two interceptions and zero touchdowns.

    Wolfpack reserve quarterback Marcus Stone came in during the second quarter and was more effective than Davis, but was still very inconsistent. The redshirt sophomore completed 6-of-16 passes for 123 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception.

    But before Stone would get his chance, Wake came out throwing early, as quarterback Ben Mauk found Demir Boldin for a 46-yard completion on their first offensive play, setting up a 27-yard field goal by Sam Swank to put the Deacs ahead 3-0.

    Wake settled for another field goal on their next possession, a 40-yard kick from Swank increasing their lead to 6-0. The key play on the drive was a 37-yard run by tailback Chris Barclay. Barclay had a huge day, finishing with 36 carries for 117 yards.

    "Barclay is by far one of the [running backs] that everybody is sleeping on," Wolfpack defensive end Manny Lawson said. "He has such a low center of gravity and not only is he shifty and quick, but if he gets you to stop your feet, he can run around you."

    As Wake Forest scored on their first two possessions, NC State struggled mightily with Davis at the helm. After Swank's second field goal, Davis threw his first interception of the day, and junior safety Josh Gattis returned the pick 34 yards for a touchdown, giving Wake Forest a 13-0 lead.

    With the offense struggling, NC State needed a big effort from the defense and the Wolfpack defenders certainly stepped up against the Demon Deacons. The NC State defensive line received a pep talk last night from the Wolfpack coaching staff and it certainly worked, as highly-regarded defensive ends Mario Williams and Manny Lawson each were outstanding. Lawson registered nine tackles, two tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Williams totaled five tackles, four tackles for loss, and three sacks, including one in the endzone that resulted in a safety, cutting Wake's lead to 13-2.

    "On the play before that, me and Manny got back there pretty fast, and I was revved up from that," Williams said. "Then the next play I realized by the stance they had that they were going to pass, so I just got on the ball and tried to make a play."

    After another three-and-out possession with two Davis incompletions, NC State head coach Chuck Amato decided to go with Marcus Stone, who had two long completions that led NC State deep into Wake Forest territory. However, Stone would be sacked on back-to-back plays, forcing another John Deraney punt.

    Davis would start the next drive, but on third-and-six from Wake's 36-yard line Stone replaced the Wolfpack senior. Stone would connect with Brian Clark on a 36-yard scoring strike, bringing the score to 13-9 at the half. Clark made a great play in traffic, as he came back to the ball and made the catch over Alphonso Smith.

    "It was a great spark for the offense and it felt great," Stone said. "I just came in there and I dropped back, rolled out and just threw it up there and let him, being a great player, make a great play."

    The late momentum carried over to the second half, as the Wolfpack quickly jumped on Wake Forest.

    NC State added a 21-yard field goal early in the third quarter and after the Wolfpack recovered a Barclay fumble on Wake's 19-yard line, Stone hit Tramain Hall on a slant route for a 19-yard touchdown, giving NC State a 19-13 lead.

    The Deacs would respond later in the third with an eight-yard touchdown run by receiver Nate Morton giving Wake back the lead 20-19.

    On NC State's ensuing possession, Stone would make his worst pass of the day, as Wake freshman Alphonso Smith picked off a pass intended for Brian Clark and returned the interception 23 yards for a touchdown. Smith's score increased the Demon Deacon lead to 27-19,

    "We had opportunities – we had people open and you've got to hit people when they're open and you can't afford to throw interceptions for touchdowns or interceptions in the endzone," Amato said.

    Davis returned to the game after the Stone interception, and after driving NC State into Wake Forest territory he threw another interception, this time in the endzone on a fade to Brian Clark.

    The Wolfpack never seriously threatened again, as on its final offensive possession NC State couldn't convert a fake punt on fourth-and-four.

    The fake was a direct snap to DaJuan Morgan, but he was stopped for a one-yard gain, giving Wake the ball and the victory.

    "We felt there was an element of surprise and that we had a chance to get a surge for that amount of yardage," Amato said of the fake punt call. "But it should not have come down to that one play."

    State's defense held Wake Forest, which leads the ACC in rushing offense, to just 85 rushing yards on 49 carries. It is a positive that the team said they can take away as they prepare for Southern Mississippi next week.

    "We had to come out and play well today, because they're the number one rushing team in our league and so if we didn't turn up the pressure they were going to run the ball all day," Lawson said. "So we had to step it up, try to get in the backfield, try to stop Barclay."

    But, as Williams said, the team is frustrated and is hoping to be able to put everything together next week.

    "We're just not putting it together – we're not playing as a team," Williams said. "One time will have the offense doing great, and then the defense doing great, or the special teams doing great. We've got to have all faces of the game together."

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