Evans, making his first career start at his dream school, found John Dunlap open in the corner of the endzone for a 34-yard touchdown with 8 seconds left as the NC State Wolfpack upset No. 20 Boston College 17-15. Evans drove the Wolfpack to the score in 38 seconds, completing three passes on the drive for 72 yards.
"That game was storybook," Wolfpack head coach Chuck Amato said following the game. "(Evans) did a faboulous job, and he had a lot of help on the sidelines. I give the coaching staff a lot of credit too."
The Eagles had an opportunity to run out the clock on 4th-and-2 from the NC State 27 yard-line, but Eagle linebacker/fullback Brian Toal was stuffed in the backfield on the play by linebackers Pat Lowery and LeRue Rumph. Lowery and Rumph had huge games for the Wolfpack.
It was a risky decision by Boston College head coach Tom O'Brien. Leading by five points with just over a minute left, the Eagles were in field goal range but chose to try and end the game on that play instead of attempting a field goal to push the lead to eight points or pooching a punt inside the 20-yard line.
"We're disappointed about the outcome," said O'Brien. "We've been close to the edge for three weeks. We had the opportunity to win tonight, but we didn't finish offensively or defensively.
"It's a tough way to lose, but we have to give NC State credit. We've been on the edge all season long with last minute plays. This time we were on the short end."
BC, which entered the game with the ACC's top-rated offense, came out and scored a touchdown on the opening drive of the game. The Wolfpack appeared to stop the Eagles at their own 40-yard line, but a personal foul penalty for roughing the kicker allowed the drive to continue and BC capitalized on the penalty. Five plays later, Matt Ryan hooked up with tight end Tony Gonzalez for a 22-yard touchdown pass. Ryan Ohliger's extra point failed, giving Boston College a 6-0 lead with 10 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
After forcing the Eagles to punt, the Wolfpack ignited their offense on the ground. Andre Brown exploded down the right sideline for a 49-yard gain into Eagle territory. Toney Baker broke a 22-yard run on the next play before being brought down at the 7-yard line. But the Wolfpack couldn't advance the ball further and John Deraney drilled a 29-yard field goal to narrow the lead to 6-3.
Trailing 9-3 at halftime, NC State finally found some offensive rhythm on their second possession of the half, taking advantage of good field position. Starting at the Eagles' 49-yard line, the Wolfpack picked up two first downs before Brown raced 26 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown. Deraney added the extra point to give the Wolfpack their first lead of the game at 10-9 with 7:10 remaining in the third.
"All the credit goes to the offensive line," Brown said. "They were out there throwing big blocks for us, and we broke a couple."
BC had a chance to score later in the quarter, driving down to the NC State 32-yard line, but Wolfpack cornerback Jimmie Sutton intercepted Ryan's pass in the end zone for a touchback.
On their ensuing possession, Boston College would put points on the board. Starting at the Wolfpack 49-yard line, Andre Callender picked up 34 yards on five straight carries, moving the ball to the Wolfpack 15-yard line. A Ryan Purvis 13-yard catch set up Toal's 2-yard plunge with 13 minutes remaining. Boston College went for two points, but Ryan's pass to Kevin Challenger fell incomplete, giving BC a 15-10 advantage.
Trailing by five points, the Wolfpack began driving on their own 20-yard line with 4 minutes remaining. But Evans was intercepted by Dejaun Tribble with 3:07 to play on fourth down, and the game appeared to be over, but the NC State defense, and Evans, never gave up. "I never thought the game was over," Evans said. "Especially the way our defense had been playing all night. I just went over and talked to coach Trestman, ready to go back in."
Despite the fact that some of the crowd was streaming to the parking lot, the Wolfpack weren't finished. The defense made the huge stop that led to the efforts by Dunlap and Evans, and now the Wolfpack's outlook is much brighter.
Drawing on the advice of Marcus Stone, the quarterback he replaced in the lineup, Evans showed poise to lead the Wolfpack to the final score.
"I really couldn't have done the job without Marcus," said Evans. "He hugged me after the game and told me he was behind me. He had told me the same thing less then an hour after the announcement that I was starting. He's been a big help, and I couldn't have done it without him."
"Jay Davis told me earlier in the week, he said, '[Daniel Evans] has ice in his blood' Maybe he does, but it's red," Amato stated.
Brown had a huge game running the ball, finishing with 97 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Baker added 38 yards on five carries as the Wolfpack averaged 6.1 yards on the ground.
In his first start, Evans was solid and managed the game superbly. He limited miscues and completed 16-of-31 passes for 179 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Dunlap registered 79 yards on four catches, including the game-winning score, and Anthony Hill, Lamart Barrett, Andre Brown, Toney Baker, and Donald Bowens all had two catches as Evans hooked up with seven different receivers on the night.
BC came into the game leading the ACC in total offense (400.3 yards per game) and passing offense (297.0 yards per game) behind the talents of Ryan. However, the Wolfpack held the Eagles to just 321 yards of total offense, and Ryan connected on only 13-of-25 passes for 149 yards with an interception and a touchdown.
L.V. Whitworth rushed for 109 yards on 21 carries, and Andre Callender added 54 yards on 11 carries for the Eagles.
After not forcing a punt against Southern Miss, NC State's defense responded. The Wolfpack generated six three-and-out possessions, and forced seven punts on the night, holding a high-octane BC offense to just 15 points.
"It wasn't just the offense," said Amato. "The defense had to do what they did to get us up there. They were upset about last week's game, and they wanted to fix it.
"The defense was obviously disappointed in the way they played two weeks ago. We went out, and we talked about it. That wasn't us. They were going to show people... what an opportunity to play on national television like we did tonight."
Lowery led the Wolfpack defense with 10 tackles and a pass breakup. Reserve linebackers Ernest Jones an LeRue Rumph made plays all night long, finishing with nine and eight tackles respectively. Tank Tyler, Demario Pressley and Martrel Brown all recorded sacks for the Wolfpack, as the NC State defense wanted to improve on last week's effort. What did the Wolfpack change?
"I think everybody was expecting us to make a lot of big changes, but we didn't do anything different at all," said Lowery. "We just turned up the intensity.
"I think we deserved that, as hard as we've worked. We didn't give up."
NC State improves to 2-2 on the season and is 1-0 in the ACC. Next up is a bye week for the Wolfpack before hosting Florida State on ESPN in a highly-anticipated Thursday night contest.
You likely won't find a happier player than Daniel Evans. Evans, who grew up a huge Wolfpack fan as his father, Johnny, starred at quarterback and punter for NC State and is now a commentator covering the Wolfpack, was emotional following the thrilling win.
"I can't really think of a better situation," he said. "Since I was six years old I've been coming to every home game. I've dreamed about playing on that field. To not only start a game, but to start on national television on Saturday night in an ACC game, it was amazing."
Ridiculed by some media outlets over the past couple of weeks for his team's play, Chuck Amato could have came out and boasted after defeating a top 20 team at home. However, he didn't talk about if he's on the hot seat or if his team should beat Boston College at home, he praised the fans and his players.
"I'm happy for the fans," he said. "We beat the #20 team in front of them. It was a great win. A great way to start the ACC schedule, but it doesn't get any easier.
"The way the youngsters felt down there and the stadium felt, it was rockin. It was an all-together game. They never stopped believing."
John Dunlap makes the touchdown catch with eight seconds left in the game. (Jeff Reeves/Pack Pride)