Pack Defense Holds Down Devils, 27-17

DURHAM, N.C. – The NC State offense handed its defense a two touchdown advantage in the first half, and this time the defense held as the Wolfpack won its first ACC game of the season by a 27-17 score.

The Wolfpack defense, which has struggled to keep opponents off the board all season, came up big on Saturday afternoon against Duke. They stopped the Blue Devils four times on fourth down including two fourth and ones and allowed five drives of five plays or less.

Meanwhile the offense, led by red-shirt freshman Russell Wilson, continued its consistently solid play. The Wolfpack scored on its first four possessions for the first time in over three years, put up 24 points in the first half and put up 377 yards of total offense. The Pack quarterback threw for 218 yards and two touchdowns, one each to Jarvis Williams and Anthony Hill.

The Pack got on the board first after forcing the Devils into a three and out to start the game. Brown handled the load on the first drive with several long carries before Josh Czajkowski hit on a 22-yard field goal. The Blue Devils responded with its own field goal on its ensuing possession

But the Pack took the lead on the very next play, as TJ Graham and JC Neal teamed up for a 93-yard kick-off return. Graham fielded the ball at the 7-yard line and ran a few yards forward to draw the defense, then handed the ball to Neal coming around the other end. The play worked to perfection as Neal turned on the jets down the right sideline, taking the ball all the way to the end zone to give the Pack a 10-3 lead.

Following a fourth-down stand from the Pack defense, Wilson lead his team to another touchdown drive to make it a 17-3 lead for the Wolfpack. Wilson hit Owen Spencer and Anthony Hill twice each on the drive for a combined 72 yards, including a 25-yard pass to Hill on third down to keep the drive alive. Wilson went to Hill again for the touchdown, a two-yard touch pass to Hill in the back left corner of the end zone. The lead would be short-lived however, as Thaddeus Lewis orchestrated a quick three-play drive to make it 17-10 in favor of the Pack.

The Wolfpack widened the lead back to 14 points on its next drive, its fourth consecutive scoring drive to start the game. Wilson hit Jarvis Williams streaking down the left sideline for a 32-yard touchdown to make the score 24-10 at the half. It was the most points the Pack had scored in a first half since Wofford in 2007, and the first time the team scored on its first four possessions since Eastern Kentucky in 2005.

An uneventful third quarter was highlighted by the Pack defense. Duke marched 85 yards down the field to bring up first down and goal inside the Pack's 5-yard line. But the defense held from there on four straight plays, stuffing the Duke offense and taking over on downs. The Pack would score the only points of the quarter on a 32-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in the third. The fourth quarter proved just as quiet offensively, with Duke putting up a late touchdown to make the final score 27-17.

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