N.C. States celebratory postgame locker room gathering was just about to break up Saturday afternoon when senior linebacker Nate Irving called the team to a halt.
After three straight losses to his former team, coach Tom OBrien finally had directed N.C. State to a win over Boston College, as the Wolfpack won 44-17 at Carter-Finley Stadium.
It was a radical turnaround for OBrien and N.C. State, which suffered an embarrassing, 52-20 defeat at Boston College a year ago. Irving, a senior tri-captain, wanted to reward OBrien.
Irving announced that the team was awarding OBrien a game ball. The players erupted in cheers. Quarterback Russell Wilson, whod passed for 328 yards and three touchdowns, gave another game ball to offensive coordinator Dana Bible.
We havent passed out too many game balls in the past, said safety Brandan Bishop, who intercepted two passes. But this week it was definitely necessary, and we gave it to the right people.
N.C. State (5-1, 2-1 ACC) reached the midway point of the season needing just one win to become bowl eligible, with a visit to East Carolina coming up Saturday. Players credited OBrien with helping the team bounce back after a disappointing, 41-30 loss to Virginia Tech the week before, when N.C. State relinquished a 17-0, second-quarter lead.
After that loss, OBrien told them to remember the feeling and how they didnt want it to happen again. Then OBrien and Bible prepared a game plan that would rely heavily on the short passing game.
Boston College (2-3, 0-2) has tough, physical linebackers who snuff out the running game and plays soft in the defensive backfield to take away deep passes. That left openings for short throws by Wilson.
He completed 38 passes, tying a school record set by Philip Rivers against Wake Forest in 2003, in 51 attempts. An N.C. State offense that entered the weekend leading the ACC in scoring and yards again posted big numbers with 422 yards and 35 minutes, 46 seconds of possession time.
N.C. State scored its first touchdown a blocked punt credited to Dontae Johnson was recovered by D.J. Green in the end zone. Cornerback C.J. Wilson added a 28-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter.
Theyre awfully difficult to move the ball against on defense, OBrien said. All in all, when you score as many points as we did and you score on offense, defense and special teams, its a pretty good day for your football team.
An N.C. State defense that gave up 264 rushing yards and five touchdowns last season to Boston Colleges Montel Harris also had a good day. Led by cornerback David Amerson, who made seven tackles, the N.C. State defense held Harris to 53 rushing yards on 14 carries.
Dave Shinskie, who started at a quarterback position thats been shaky all season for the Eagles, was just 7-for-24 for 89 yards with two interceptions. He was replaced by Mike Marscovetra in the third quarter.
Shinskie was sacked twice and hit numerous other times right after getting rid of the ball.
The plan was to just put pressure on [Shinskie] to make sure he didnt have time to sit back there and go through his progressions, said Johnson, a freshman safety who made his first start.
After the plan worked, the players rewarded OBrien and Bible. Afterward, OBrien scuttled reporters questions about the personal significance of the win.
He said he has spent too much time building a team-first atmosphere to make a big deal of his own personal feelings about his former school. But the players did the talking for him.
I know this game meant a lot to him, C.J. Wilson said. He coached those boys, and we felt like he deserved it. He kept us active this week and showed us that it meant a lot to him. If it means a lot to our head coach, it means a lot to us.
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