Red Wins a Thriller 23-21 Over White

RALEIGH, N.C. -- With all the fan attention on who will be lining up under center for the 2008 season, the NC State quarterbacks had a strong showing in the Pack's annual Spring game on Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium.

The Red team scored on a desperation 31-yard touchdown pass on the last play of the game, and claimed a 23-21 win in front of 15,273.

Justin Burke directed the game-winning drive, culminating with a 31-yard touchdown pass to tight end George Bryan on fourth down with no time left on the clock. The Red team's winning drive covered 75 yards in the final 1:25 minutes.

"The only way I wanted it to end was to have the team make a big play at the end," said head coach Tom O'Brien following the scrimmage. "I got my wish. I told Audie Cole to knock him down and he did. [George] Bryan was on his back, but Justin [Burke] was chased for his life and got the chance to win. If it was scripted, it wouldn't have turned out that way. It's good to see how we can react under pressure."

The three quarterbacks, with Daniel Evans missing the game after shoulder surgery, combined to complete 38-of-65 passes for 410 yards and three total touchdowns. But the number Pack fans were interested in most, no interceptions were thrown all day.

It appeared the White team was going to pull out the win after redshirt freshman Russell Wilson lined up for a QB sneak late in the fourth quarter. But he saw a hole on the right side of the line, and scored on a 25-yard run with just 1:25 left.

Wilson started the game for the White team, and was 8-of-21 for 61 yards on the day.

Burke could not have scripted a better start to his day, as he hit his first five attempts and led two touchdown drives in the second quarter taking over for Wilson on the White team.

Burke led all quarterbacks, throwing for 191 yards on 17-of-24 passing. He was 7-of-9 for 91 yards in the second half, and also had both of the game's touchdown passes.

Harrison Beck was the Red team's lone QB in the first half, and he was 13-of-20 for 158 yards for the day.

The Pack's running attack was depleted for the contest, as Toney Baker (knee), Andre Brown (foot), and Curtis Underwood, Jr., (ankle) all sat out the game with injury. The Pack had only one scholarship running back available, Jamelle Eugene, and had three walk-ons play significant action.

Eugene led the rushing attack for the Pack, as he carried 15 times for 68 yards, including a 21-yard scamper in the second quarter for the White team's first score to tie the game at 7-7.

Ulysses Tuft, Jr., started the scoring off for the Pack, as he scored on a three-yard run on the Red team's second drive of the game.

After Eugene's score, the Red squad retook the lead, on a special teams play Hollywood-made for the preseason. After just a nine-yard White punt, the ball started rolling out-of-bounds, but stayed in the field of play. Robbie Leonard picked up the ball, and rumbled down the sideline untouched for a 56-yard return.

The contest was deadlocked 14-14 at the half. At halftime, the Pack welcomed all former Wolfpack players in attendance onto the field for regonization.

Both squads secured the ball during the game, with the only turnover a Darrell Davis fumble in the fourth quarter.

"What is important is what takes place now that spring ball is over," said O'Brien. "Right now, we're not good enough to win. We understand concepts now and there weren't as many missed alignments or missed tackles. But we are far from perfect, so the hard work has to start tomorrow if we're going to be ready for a winning season."

The first half was played into two, normal 15-minute quarters with regular stoppages. The second half was two, 12-minute running clock periods, with the clock stopping only in the final two-minutes.

The Wolfpack will open its season in a Thursday night national TV contest at South Carolina on August 28.

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