The players on N.C. State’s defense heard all week about how good Boston College’s defense is.
The Eagles entered the game No. 1 in the country in total defense and against the run.
But it was N.C. State’s defense that had a point to prove in a 24-8 road win over the Eagles on Saturday.
“We were just trying to show them that we were the best defense on the field,” senior cornerback Juston Burris said.
With five sacks and three interceptions, the Wolfpack (6-3, 2-3 ACC) defense led the way to its first ACC win at Boston College (3-7, 0-7) since the Eagles joined the ACC in 2005.
The win made the Wolfpack bowl eligible for the fifth time in six years.
N.C. State’s defense was intent to show it was better than last week’s 56-41 loss to Clemson and its last trip to Boston College, a 38-21 loss in 2013.
“We came here two years ago and Andre Williams just ran right through us,” Burris said. “Just to come back and get this win, the first win (at Boston College), was great.”
N.C. State had been 0-5 at Alumni Stadium in ACC games. Two years ago, Williams set a single-game ACC record with 339 rushing yards. On Saturday, N.C. State held the Eagles to 28 rushing yards on 34 carries.
“If you can do that to BC, that says a lot about what your (defensive) front accomplished in the game,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said.
In its first game without leading rusher Matt Dayes, who’s out for the season after foot surgery, N.C. State needed a little extra from its defense.
28 Rushing yards allowed
Burris and safeties Josh Jones and Hakim Jones each had an interception. N.C. State also had a forced fumble that freshman defensive tackle Eurndraus Bryant caught in mid-air at the Boston College 23-yard line but fumbled back to the Eagles on his way into the end zone.
“We knew that we were due for a bunch of takeaways,” Doeren said.
The Wolfpack, which entered the game ranked No. 9 in total defense, had produced seven turnovers on the season and only two in four ACC games.
N.C. State’s defensive front harassed fourth-string quarterback John Fadule, a walk-on, throughout the game. Senior defensive end Mike Rose spent the afternoon in Boston College’s backfield with 4.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
“We were coming for the ball,” Rose said. “That’s what we wanted. We put it on the defense’s back.”
With N.C. State up 14-0 at the half, Rose set the tone on the first play of the second half with a sack of Fadule.
“Seniors have to play like seniors,” Doeren said. “Last year, T.Y. McGill, Thomas Teal and Art Norman they played good ball for us and we needed Mike to be that guy on the defensive line and he has been there.”
The Eagles went backwards on their first three drives of the third quarter. Boston College’s first nine plays of the second half went for minus-23 yards.
In the interim, N.C. State got a 35-yard touchdown run from freshman Reggie Gallaspy to go up 21-0 and effectively put the game away with 12 minutes left in the third quarter.
N.C. State pieced together 139 yards on the ground behind Gallaspy, sophomore running back Jaylen Samuels, quarterback Jacoby Brissett and freshman receiver Nyheim Hines, who took his first snaps of the season at running back.
We were coming for the ball. That’s what we wanted.
NC State defensive end Mike Rose
Boston College entered the game giving up only 64.2 rushing yards per game. Only Louisville (140) got more than N.C. State, which is learning how to deal without 108.1 yards per game from Dayes.
“It was a pretty good day offensively, considering what we were going up against,” Doeren said.
N.C. State finished with 351 yards of offense, about 128 more than Boston College usually gives up.
The loss knocked Boston College out of bowl contention. The Wolfpack hopes for more than a bowl game.
With three games left, Doeren doesn’t want his team to stop there.
“Our goal was to be better than we were a year ago,” Doeren said. “Last year, we won seven in the regular season, so we just have to keep fighting and swinging and see if we can get there.”
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio