By: Joey Raymond
All Photo Credit: Katie Lovell-LMS Network
Blacksburg, VA —Senior day is here, and the Hokies and the Wolfpack are set to do battle in Lane Stadium in front of a sold-out crowd. The Hokies are desperately looking to pick up that sixth win and become bowl-eligible. A feat that the Wolfpack have already achieved as they come into this game 7-3 on the year. Both NC State and Virginia Tech come into this game with 4-2 records in the ACC and are tied for third place in the league. This should be an interesting matchup as both of these teams on paper are virtually the same. Both of these squads feature a great defense with an offense that can be touch and go. This should be a close game and should be one that should be close. The WolfPack won last season’s matchup in Raleigh 22-21, but the Hokies have won the last three matchups here in Blacksburg.
First Quarter Recap:
Virginia Tech is ready to kick us off and this place is juiced. NC State won the toss and deferred to the second half. Virginia Tech would get stuffed quickly, being forced to punt it away on their first drive. NC State’s offense would get a chance, and Lane Stadium would get a chance to make some noise. Even though Armstrong and Company would get a first down, the Hokies’ defense would stand tall a couple of plays later, forcing NC State to also punt. The Hokies’ next chance with the ball would result in another three and out. NC State would methodically work their way down to the 46-yard line before getting stopped again by the Tech defense, and being forced to punt it again. The Hokies would then pick up their first, first down of the game, but ultimately be forced to punt it away again. After a very questionable pass interference call, the WolfPack would find themselves on the 33-yard line a couple of plays later. The quarter would end shortly after.
Second Quarter Recap:
NC State continues their drive from the 33-yard line. Very quickly the WolfPack would find themselves in the red zone, but get stuffed on three plays, prompting the WolfPack to go for it on fourth down. NC State would throw a quick backward slant, which is quickly taken into the endzone for our first score of the game. NC State would take a 0-7 lead after the extra point. Virginia Tech would attempt to respond to the score on their next drive. They would almost immediately shoot themselves in the foot. Throwing for a loss of 6 yards, then getting a couple penalties bringing them to 3rd and 27. They would not be able to convert it and punt it right back to the WolfPack. The frustration in Lane Stadium is palpable. NC State would get the ball and immediately get to work. They take the ball 60 yards into the endzone, on 8 plays, bringing the score to 0-14 after the extra point. The Hokies finally give their fans something to cheer about as Bashul Tuten returns the kick 62 yards and then Turner-Bradshaw takes it the rest of the way on one play, into the endzone, bringing the score to 7-14 after the extra point. NC State would have just over 4 minutes to respond to the Hokies’ quick strike. The WolfPack would take full advantage, scoring on an 11-play, 75-yard drive. This would stretch the NC State lead to 7-21. The Hokies would be content with leaving the score as is, kneeling the ball, and taking us to halftime.
Third Quarter Recap:
NC State would receive the second-half kickoff after deferring to the second half after winning the toss. The WolfPack go back to their methodical offensive game plan, going all the way down the field on 12 plays, for 75 yards, finding the endzone once again. NC State is starting to pull away at this point in the game, getting a 7-28 lead after the score. The Hokies would attempt to show any sign of life in their next drive. They would do a great job of it, getting into the endzone after two plays, and keeping the game within two scores. NC State would still lead it 14-28. NC State would be quick at getting into the red zone, in large part due to a 43-yard run from Armstrong. The next play, NC State would hand it to running back Concepcion, who would throw it for a touchdown, bringing the NC State lead back to three scores. The WolfPack would now lead the Hokies 14-35. The Hokies would try to throw deep three straight times, but they wouldn’t be successful, and they’d have to punt it away once again. NC State goes back to work, trying to put this game away. Unfortunately for NC State, they’d get stuffed by the Hokies’ defense, and have to punt it away. The Hokies would try to take advantage of the second chance, working down to the 24 before the quarter would end and we’d head to the fourth.
Fourth Quarter Recap:
The Hokies continued their drive from the 24-yard line to start the fourth quarter. A little less than half of Lane Stadium has gone home at this point as the Hokies are down by three scores late. NC State would force a fourth and ten, which the Hokies go for and get a free five yards thanks to an offsides penalty. The Hokies would still attempt to go for it and fail to convert it. They would turn it over on downs, giving the ball back to NC State. The WolfPack would not be able to get anything going on offense though, having to punt it away after 5 plays. Virginia Tech then goes on a methodical, 10-play, 92-yard touchdown drive. They inch ever so slightly closer, bringing the score to 21-35. NC State would then take over at the 25, the Hokies would need a big play to somehow find their way back into it. The Hokies’ defense would get a massive stop, forcing NC State to punt it away again, giving the Hokies a chance to make this a one-score game, if they can manage to score a touchdown on this drive. Virginia Tech would throw an interception on the first play of the drive, ultimately putting a wrench in the Hokies hopes. However, Virginia Tech would get one last attempt on offense. The Hokies would force the WolfPack to punt it away, and then go on a very quick 4-play, 43-yard touchdown drive. This gives the Hokies some hope, but they’ll have to attempt an onside kick to give them a chance. They do and are unsuccessful. NC State would fall on the kick. The WolfPack would just need to run out the clock to salt the game away. They manage to get the clock down to all zeros and put the nails in the Hokies’ coffin. The WolfPack would win it, 28-35.
Virginia Tech falls to 5-6 on the season after this one, while the WolfPack moves to a strong 8-3. The Hokies will try to reassess how they did things in this game and attempt to become bowl-eligible next week against their arch-rival, Virginia. The hope for Virginia Tech is that against UVA, they won’t be so lackadaisical in the play calling to open the game as it was for them in this one. The Hokies started abysmally slow and seemingly didn’t take any chances until it was too late. On the opposite side, NC State played smart, letting the opponent shoot themselves in the foot while putting forward almost an unstoppable running game. NC State will hope to keep that momentum going playing their rival, UNC. The University of North Carolina is a tough football team and NC State will need to keep a similar strategy if they hope to beat them.