After back-to-back losses, N.C. State needed a win. Florida State provided the perfect antidote on Saturday.
The Wolfpack got a career game from senior Reggie Gallaspy and three touchdowns from freshman Ricky Person to squeeze the Seminoles 47-28 and qualify for a bowl game in the process.
After a 5-0 start to the season, N.C State (6-2, 3-2 ACC) had dropped consecutive ACC games to Clemson and Syracuse and was hoping to get back on track.
“It felt like we were clicking on all cylinders and it was good to get a win again,” senior center Garrett Bradbury said.
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N.C. State out-rushed Florida State (4-5, 2-5) 177 to 24 and was helped by a bevy of FSU miscues. The Seminoles were flagged 16 times for 121 yards and turned the ball over twice.
Throw in a 125-yard performance by receiver Jakobi Meyers and four field goals by Chris Dunn and N.C. State was able to give coach Dave Doeren his second straight win over FSU (and first in Raleigh) to qualify for the postseason for the fifth straight year.
“When we’re plus-2 in the turnover margin and you can’t run the football against us and we just limit the big plays, we’re going to score enough points to win a lot of football games,” Doeren said.
The Wolfpack defense had been stretched in those two losses, and was through the air again, but was able to find some footing.
Both turnovers came in the first half and the Wolfpack scored on five of its first six possessions to jump out to a 27-7 lead in the second quarter.
Person, who missed the Syracuse game with multiple injuries, had touchdown runs of 1 and 4 yards in his return. He also had a 2-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter.
The running game got a boost with Person’s return, even though the freshman finished with only 42 yards. Gallaspy ran 21 times for a career-high 106 yards. The return of right tackle Justin Witt, who also missed the Syracuse loss, helped, too.
“I thought we were physical at the line of scrimmage,” Doeren said. “You saw a lot surge on the offensive line. I was impressed. I thought Reggie Gallaspy played a really good football game.”
N.C. State had run for a combined 172 yards in the losses to Clemson and Syracuse. Gallaspy said it was important to get the running game going early.
“It got everything moving and started a rhythm and the rhythm just kept going the rest of the game,” Gallaspy said.
Quarterback Ryan Finley completed 21 of 27 passes 240 yards with three touchdowns and was not sacked. FSU entered the game ranked in the top 20 nationally in sacks but couldn’t get to Finley.
An 8-yard touchdown pass from Finley to receiver Kelvin Harmon gave the Wolfpack a 17-0 lead at 11:33 in the second quarter.
There were still holes in the Wolfpack secondary. N.C. State, which entered the game at No. 126 in the country in pass defense, gave up 421 yards to sophomore quarterback James Blackman.
In his first start of the season, Blackman connected with receiver Tamorrion Terry five times for 142 yards. Terry’s 35-yard touchdown catch at N.C. State’s lead to 17-7 at 9:36 in the second quarter.
Blackman also hit running back Cam Akers right before the half on an 8-yard touchdown to cut N.C. State’s lead to 27-14 at the break.
The Wolfpack scored on its first drive of the second half and 20 of the first 27 points of the second half to keep the Noles at bay.
“I felt like we were in rhythm and controlled the game the whole game,” Bradbury said.