Tough Loss for State

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Just when it looked like the Daniel Evans fairy tale would continue, Evans ran out of late-game magic.

  • Tough Loss for State
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    Safety Josh Gattis intercepted Evans with 45 seconds remaining to seal Wake Forest's 25-23 victory over N.C. State. Evans had moved the Wolfpack from its own 22-yard line to the Wake 40-yard line in seven plays to try and get in range for a John Deraney game-winning kick, but the interception ended the drive and the game.

    The player of the game had to be Wake Forest placekicker Sam Swank. The sophomore tied an ACC record with three field goals of longer than 50 yards and also kicked a huge 54-yard punt to pin the Wolfpack deep on its final possession.

    "He's a special player," said Wake head coach Jim Grobe. "We were worried at the beginning of the year because he had to punt and kick field goals but he has turned out to be a good punter and a special field goal kicker, no question."

    In the first half, the Wake Forest offense got going right away. After Deraney booted the opening kickoff out of bounds, the Deacons drove down the field in eight plays, with tailback Kevin Harris capping the drive with a 15 yard TD run.

    For the fourth straight game, the NC State defense allowed the opponent to score on its opening drive.

    The Wolfpack was able to sustain a drive on its next possession that that took them inside the Wake 30-yard line, but John Deraney's 44-yard field goal attempt was wide left. It was Deraney's first miss of the season, and he missed it badly. Deraney didn't want to make excuses for the miss, but pointed out that Evans, who is also the Wolfpack's holder, took the blame.

    "I'm not going to blame anybody," said Deraney. "Daniel took fault for it. He said he dropped the snap."

    Less than a minute into the second quarter, Swank drilled a 51-yard field goal to extend the Deacons'lead to 10-0.

    The Wolfpack responded to get on the board on the ensuing possession. Facing a 3rd-and-6 from their own 28-yard line, Evans hit Darrell Blackman down the middle for a 26-yard gain into Wake territory. Three consecutive rushes and a 17-yard completion to Donald Bowens put the Wolfpack at the Deacons' one-yard line, where Brown leaped into the endzone for a touchdown with 9:55 remaining in the half.

    On Wake Forest's next posssesion, the Wolfpack defense stiffened up to force a punt from inside the 10-yard line. Blackman returned the punt 15 yards, giving State great field position at the Deacon 38-yard line. A 22-yard completion to tight end Anthony Hill put the Wolfpack at the 3-yard line. Two plays later, Baker raced off tackle for a score from three yards out, giving State a 14-10 lead.

    The Deacons cut the Wolfpack lead to one with two minutes left in the half, when Swank converted a 53-yard field goal.

    The game changed on NC State's next possession. On the very first play, Andre Brown fumbled the football as he was switching hands, and the Deacons appeared to have an easy fumble recovery for a touchdown. But tackle James Newby was able to recover the ball in the endzone for a safety, putting the Deacons ahead 15-14 with 1:27 remaining in the half.

    Wake wasn't done. Quarterback Riley Skinner found Nate Morton wide open on a busted play, and Morton raced to the endzone for a 57-yard touchdown, putting the Deacons ahead 22-14 heading into halftime.

    The nine-point swing changed the momentum of the game and proved to be the difference.

    In the second half, the two squads exchanged punts for much of the third quarter. Swank had an opportunity for a 49-yard field goal, but the attempt bounced off the goalpost.

    On State's opening drive of the fourth quarter, the Wolfpack drove 59 yards in 13 plays to set up a 27-yard field goal from Deraney. But Swank answered with another long field goal of 53 yards to extend the Deacons lead back to eight points at 25-17.

    Andre Brown got loose on the second play of State's next drive and scampered 45 yards to the Wake Forest 27-yard line. After a nine-yard catch by Hill, Baker capped off the drive from 13 yards out. The Pack's two-point conversion attempt failed when Evans pass for Hill fell incomplete.

    Down 25-23, NC State would get the ball back, but the interception by Gattis ended any chance of a Wolfpack victory.

    Besides his final pass, Evans had another efficient day for the Wolfpack. He completed 21-of-37 passes for 200 yards and led an offense that converted on 6-of-12 third-downs.

    The Wolfpack averaged 4.8 yards per carry, with Baker rushing for 57 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries and Brown added 51 yards and a score on eight rushes.

    State generated 334 yards of total offense and didn't allow a sack, as Wake entered the game with the most sacks in the ACC. The Deacons totaled 266 yards of offense with 94 yards coming on two first-half plays.

    NC State played a good game, but Wake Forest played a perfect game. The Deacons had no turnovers, recorded a safety and connected on three 50+ yard field goals. That type of play will win a lot of football games.

    The win was Wake's first victory at Carter Finley stadium since 1984, breaking a stretch of ten straight losses in Raleigh.

    NC State (3-3, 1-1) hits the road next weekend for a game against Maryland and Wake Forest (6-1, 2-2) has a bye before facing North Carolina.

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