Zips Shock Wolfpack

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State had a couple of crucial turnovers and Akron made big plays down the stretch to upset the Wolfpack, 20-17.

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    Akron's offense came out strong and looked poised to score on their opening possession, as quarterback Luke Getsy picked up three first downs through the air, but the drive stalled on a sack by James Martin.

    Later in the half the Zips threatened again, putting together a five-play 66-yard drive, highlighted by Getsy's 44-yard completion to receiver David Harvey, but kicker Matt Domonkos missed a 33-yard field goal wide right and the scored remained 0-0.

    Akron finally put points on the board in the second quarter, as the Zips capitalized on a Wolfpack mistake. With 11 minutes left in the second quarter, Akron recovered tight end Anthony Hill's fumble after a 16-yard catch, giving the Zips great field position at N.C. State's 25-yard line. On the first play of the drive, tailback Dennis Kennedy found Getsy on a halfback pass-play for 24 yards. Kennedy would punch in the touchdown from a yard out on the ensuing play, making it 7-0 Zips.

    On the Wolfpack's next drive, after picking up two first downs, Stone's pass intended for Darrell Blackman was intercepted by Akron's Andre Jones at the two-yard line.

    Stone and the Wolfpack's offense struggled throughout the first half, failing to put any points on the borad.

    Stone struggled with his accuracy in the first half completing just 5-of-16 passes for 49 yards, and the Wolfpack's ground game was also silenced by an aggressive Akron defense. Starter Andre Brown carried the ball just three times for 10 yards before leaving with a thigh bruise, and Toney Baker's seven carries for 36 yards paced the Wolfpack.

    Getsy, regarded as one of the nation's most talented signal-callers, had a terrible first half. He completed just 6-of-18 attempts for 102 yards in the first half. However, the star of the half was Dennis Kennedy, as he rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown on 16 carries prior to intermission.

    With four minutes left in the third quarter, the Wolfpack had its best starting field position of the afternoon, starting at the Akron 41-yard line. After picking up a first down on a Toney Baker screen pass, John Deraney put the Wolfpack on the scoreboard by drilling a 42-yard field goal, making the score 7-3.

    NC State took the lead for the first time early in the 4th quarter. The drive started on the 48 yard-line, but a high snap over Stone's head had the Wolfpack facing second-and-32. Then something clicked for Stone. The redshirt junior completed a 15-yard pass to Blackman on second down, followed by a 22-yard completion to John Dunlap to pick up the first down. Dunlap's reception might have been the turning point for the Wolfpack's offense as it was a huge 3rd-down conversion.

    Four plays later, Stone found Blackman on the right sideline for a 20-yard touchdown pass. The reception completed a seven-play, 46-yard drive to put the Pack up 10-7. The Wolfpack looked to gain some breathing room with 10 minutes remaining when J.C. Neal blocked an Akron punt, and the ball was recovered at the Akron 23-yard line. However, Stone was stopped short on a huge fourth-and-one situation at the Zip four-yard line, a call that NC State's Chuck Amato said he would make every time.

    "Before you even ask, if I had to do the 4th down-and-1 over again, I would do the same thing," said Amato. "They had about 32 yards in the second half, and in my wildest dreams I would have never thought they could have gone 96. I didn't think it was a gamble."

    Akron capitalized on the huge play made by its defense, as Getsy hooked up with Harvey for big yardage twice on the ensuing drive, including one reception for 62 yards. The receptions set up Kennedy's plunge from a yard out, giving the Zips a 14-10 advantage, and capping an impressive 96-yard scoring drive.

    NC State moved the ball into Zip territory on the next drive, but Stone couldn't handle the center exchange and Akron's Mark Groza recovered the fumble with four minutes to play. The Wolfpack forced a three-and out to get a final possession with 2:41 on the clock.

    Stone began the drive by passing to Blackman down the middle for 11-yard gain. On the following play, Stone eluded a sack and found Baker, who escaped a tackle and raced 26 yards for a first down. After two running plays and an incomplete pass, the Wolfpack faced a fourth-and-five from the 11-yard line. Stone quickly found Jamelle Eugune in the flat for an 11-yard touchdown catch with 1:07 remaining on the clock, Deraney added the extra point to give the Wolfpack a 17-14 lead.

    But the Zips weren't done yet as NC State gave them favorable field position following an excessive celebration penalty.

    31 and 11-yard receptions by Jabari Arthur put Akron at the Wolfpack 25-yard line with 25 seconds left. Two Getsy keepers had the Zips at the Wolfpack one-yard line with three seconds to play, and Akron gave the ball to Kennedy on the game's final play. The tailback punched it in on a controversial run that wasn't reviewed, but the score gave Akron an upset 20-17 win.

    Leading the way for Akron was Kennedy, who finished with 117 yards and three touchdowns on 30 carries. Getsy completed just 12-of-31 passes for 243 yards, but came up big down the stretch.

    Stone stepped up late for the Wolfpack, but it wasn't enough. He completed 16-of-31 passes for 209 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. The leading receiver was talented tight end Anthony Hill. A week after not catching a pass, Hill totaled seven catches for 82 yards. Baker and Blackman added four and three catches respectively. Baker paced the Wolfpack on the ground, rushing for 58 yards on 17 carries.

    Next up for NC State (1-1) is a tough game at Southern Miss. The Golden Eagles will be looking to avenge last year's loss to the Wolfpack, and NC State has to consider the game a must-win.

    Akron scores the winning touchdown on the game's final play.


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