RALEIGH — If Saturday was Russell Wilson's last home game as N.C. State's quarterback, he left Carter-Finley Stadium in style.
Wilson, a junior, was honored on senior day because he hasn't announced whether he is returning for his senior season. Then he passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more in N.C. State's 38-3 dismantling of Wake Forest.
With just under 10 minutes remaining and the win assured for the Wolfpack, he came out of the game to a standing ovation.
"It was just exciting," said Wilson, who played professional baseball last season in the Colorado Rockies organization. "I don't know if I'm coming back yet, but it was a special moment."
There were plenty of special moments for N.C. State's seniors, too.
Linebacker Nate Irving set a school record with eight tackles for loss, breaking the mark of six set by Mario Williams against Southern Mississippi in 2005.
Wide receiver Owen Spencer caught seven passes for 138 yards, including a 38-yarder for a score that stretched N.C. State's lead to 17-3 on the opening drive of the third quarter. Fellow wideout Jarvis Williams added four catches for 74 yards and the only touchdown of the first half.
Defensive end Michael Lemon added two tackles for loss, including a sack. The win sent N.C. State (7-3, 4-2 ACC) on the road for the last two games of the regular season with a lot at stake.
Should the Wolfpack win at North Carolina on Saturday and at Maryland on Nov. 27, N.C. State will represent the Atlantic Division in the ACC championship game on Dec. 4 in Charlotte in coach Tom O'Brien's fourth season.
"We just all bought into this program and the seniors did a good job pushing everybody," Williams said. "... We missed out on a couple [wins]. We should be undefeated. ... We're going to take what we've got and make sure we get to Charlotte."
With a running-based, ball-control attack, Wake Forest (2-8, 1-6) kept the game close for a half. N.C. State's David Akinniyi and Brandan Bishop made a big stop, though, tackling Michael Campanaro for a 1-yard loss on fourth-and-goal at the 2 with 58 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The stop preserved a 10-3 lead, and N.C. State outgained Wake Forest 157 yards to 11 in the third quarter to take control of the game.
Wilson passed to Spencer for a score that gave the Wolfpack breathing room, then kept the ball on a read-option play to run for a 2-yard score of his own.
Coach Tom O'Brien joked with Wilson after the play that there was no chance Wilson was handing the ball off to Mustafa Greene on the play. O'Brien also praised Wilson's leadership on the practice field after N.C. State's disappointing, 14-13 loss the previous week at Clemson.
"Everybody on the offense was afraid to make a mistake today, because he would have been after them," O'Brien said.
If Wilson doesn't return next season, he will leave with extraordinary numbers. On Saturday he moved into second place in ACC history in touchdown responsibility with 85 touchdowns. He moved past Joe Hamilton, Shawn Moore and Chris Weinke and trails only former N.C. State standout Philip Rivers, who holds the ACC record with 112.
He also exhibited a touch of class that few people noticed before the game. During the senior day festivities, he handed bracelets to his mother, brother and sister that he'd had inscribed with his father's name and "1954-2010."
His father, Harrison Wilson III, died in June after a long illness. Wilson said he thinks about his father every day.
He plans to continue honoring his memory no matter what he does next.
What that will be is anyone's guess. Asked about the future, Wilson talked about the next game, against North Carolina. Beyond that, though, Wilson isn't tipping his hand.
"You can't worry about tomorrow," Wilson said. "You have to take care of today. That's the way I am."
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