Pack comes up short against Noles, 45-42

NC State had 538 yards of total offense, but its defense couldn't stop Florida State as the Wolfpack fell 45-42 on Saturday afternoon at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Russell Wilson and the NC State offense got the ball back with 1:36 left on the clock and three points down on the scoreboard. With the way the Wolfpack offense was moving the ball, it seemed like even while trailing the Pack had momentum on its side.

The offense, which had put up 42 points to that point only to watch its defense give up 45 to Florida State, needed one more touchdown drive to leave Tallahassee with a win. But the Wolfoack couldn't get it done, as Wilson was intercepted on a 4th-and-17 for the final play of the game as the Pack suffered its fourth straight loss at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Wilson threw for 349 yards and five touchdowns as well as two interceptions, both of which came on the final plays of the half and game. The Wolfpack offense racked up 538 yards of total offense but the Pack defense allowed 535 yards of its own. Florida State put up 267 yards on the ground and scored five rushing touchdowns while Christian Ponder threw for 268 yards and one score.

The Pack stopped the Seminoles on their first drive and pinned them inside their own 5-yard to start their second possession. But that wasn't enough to slow down the Noles, who responded to the poor field position by driving 98 yards on 12 plays, finishing off the drive with a 4-yard run from Jermain Thomas to put Florida State up by a touchdown. The Pack forced a fumble on the drive, but Thomas picked the ball right back up after dropping it and reversed field to gain 20 yards. The Noles gained at least three yards on every play of the drive.

But Wilson and the Pack answered on the very next play. Wilson got great protection in the pocket and Owen Spencer broke free up the left hash mark, hauling in the pass in stride and using one of the referees to screen an FSU defender on his way to a 80-yard touchdown reception. The bomb put the Pack right back in the game, tying the score at a touchdown each.

The lead didn't last long, however, as Florida State struck back in just four plays. The big play for the Seminoles came on their fist play, when Ponder hit Tawain Easterling for a 39-yard reception to put the Noles deep in Pack territory. Chris Thompson finished off the drive with a 6-yard run to make it 14-7 in favor of the home team early in the second quarter.

Both offenses kept dominating the line of scrimmage, and the Pack was no exception on its next drive. Jamelle Eugene took control with his legs, carrying the ball six times for 41 yards and the final 3-yard touchdown run during the drive. The score wouldn't stay tied long though, as the Pack defense continued to give up big plays to the Seminoles. It was Thomas striking the Pack again this time, taking the second play of the drive 54 yards for the touchdown to make it 21-14.

The scoring onslaught took a brief hiatus, as the team traded punts for the first time since the start of the game. But after the Pack defense forced just its second punt of the game, the Pack offense got right back on track. Wilson hit Spencer on the first play for 61 yards, and Wilson finished off the drive by hitting Jarvis Williams on third down for a 6-yard touchdown to tie the game at 21 heading into the locker room.

The Seminoles emerged from the locker room and found their offensive swagger again, marching 60 yards on 12 plays for its fourth touchdown of the day as Ponder hit Owens for a 5-yard score. The Pack against struck back almost immediately, with Russel finding Darrell Davis for a 32-yard play on third down and following it with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Williams.

The Pack defense couldn't give the ball back to its offense without giving up points, but it did hold the Seminoles to its first field goal of the day. The Noles marched 13 plays to the Pack 6-yard line, but a holding penalty on third down left them short of the first down forcing a field goal to put the Noles up 31-28 with a minute remaining in the third quarter. The Seminoles tacked on another touchdown after the Pack punted, going up 10 points early in the fourth quarter.

Wilson and the offense bounced back just as the team seemed to be fading, as Baker took the offense on his shoulders and lumbered down the field. Baker was involved in five plays for 44 yards before Wilson found George Bryan wide open in the middle of the field for a 29-yard touchdown to pull the Pack back within a field goal.

The Pack forced the Seminoles to go three and out for the first time all day, and used that opportunity to take the lead for the first time all day. Again it was Baker doing the brunt of the work, carrying the ball five times for 19 yards before Wilson found Williams in the end zone for the third time on the day to make it 41-38 in favor of the Pack. The Noles struck last, with Ponder carrying his team down the field and scoring with 1:36 left to take a three-point lead that would hold.

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