Pack comeback falls short, 26-17

RALEIGH – This time Russell Wilson couldn't play the role of comeback hero. Wilson had orchestrated comeback touchdown drives to tie the score late in the last two games, but the Florida State defense kept the freshman quarterback from making it three in a row.

Trailing by six points with four minutes remaining, NC State took possession from its own 34-yard line. A holding penalty, a sack and a tipped pass later the comeback hopes were over. Florida State would nail a 53-yard field goal with two minutes left on its ensuing possession to put the nail in the coffin, beating the Pack by a 26-17 score on Thursday night at Carter Finley Stadium.

The defense once again fell short for the Pack in its third straight loss, as it gave up 393 yards of total offense and allowed the Noles to convert on key third and longs through out the game. Seminole quarterback Christian Ponder finished with 254 yards and a touchdown while Wilson finished with 180 yards and two scores. Neither team had a turnover in the game.

The Pack got on the board first with a punishing drive down the field. The 10-play drive consisted mostly of hand-offs to Andre Brown, who carried it four times for 29 yards. The big play came from little used fullback Taylor Gentry, who hauled in a pass in the flat and rumbled 25 yards to the 12-yard line. But the drive stalled there, as Wilson's pass to Jarvis Williams on third down was dropped in the endzone and the Pack had to settle for a field goal to take a 3-0 lead.

After another stop by the Pack defense, the Pack offense went back to work with another scoring drive. Wilson orchestrated four plays of over 10 yards, finishing the drive with a 20-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Hill to put the Wolfpack up by 10 points early in the second quarter.

But the Florida State offense would climb back in the game slowly, hurting itself with a bevy of offensive penalties but still managing two field goals in its final two possessions. The Noles moved the ball well but had five offensive holding penalties and Ponder was sacked three times in the half to keep the Seminoles from reaching the end zone. But Florida State picked up two 37-yard field goals including one at the end of the half to make it a 10-6 game.

The Noles would take the lead on their first possession of the second half, using the runnig game to score its first touchdown of the game. Florida State threw just one pass on the drive, Ponder scrambled for 16 to pick up a key first down and Antone Smith finished the drive off with a 27-yard run. Smith ran through JC Neal on the play to reach the endzone and make it 13-10. The two offense would both stall from there, as the Noles and Pack traded punts for four possessions.

But Wilson and Spencer broke the scoring lull with another long touchdown pass, with a play reminiscent of a long touchdown between the two players in the Pack's last game. After a 13-yard run from Jamelle Eugene gave the Pack a first down at the 33-yard line, Wilson hit a streaking Spencer down the middle of the field. Catching the ball in stride, Spencer ran untouched into the endzone for a 67-yard reception to put the Pack back on top 17-13.

Florida State immediately retook the lead as the Pack defense failed to stop the Noles on a crucial 3rd and 17 early in the drive. Ponder hit a 23-yard pass to convert, and from there Florida State marched down the field, capped off by a 17-yard pass to Bert Reed to make it a three-point Florida State advantage. The Noles would kick a 44-yard field goal later in the fourth to stretch the lead to its final margin, 23-17.

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