After losing his first four games to Florida State, N.C. State coach Dave Doeren has now won two in a row against the Seminoles.
“It’s not very often that you beat Florida State two years in a row,” Doeren said. “That just doesn’t happen a lot for anybody.”
This is the third time N.C. State has won consecutive games against the Seminoles, since FSU joined the ACC in 1992. Chuck Amato, a former FSU assistant before becoming N.C. State’s head coach in 2000, beat the Seminoles in 2001 and ‘02 and then again in 2005 and ‘06.
Five key plays in N.C. State’s 47-28 win over the Seminoles on Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium:
1. Reggie runs
Score: N.C. State 0, Florida State 0
Time: 12:09 first quarter
Field position: 4th and 1 at the FSU 32
N.C. State’s running game has been good at home in ACC play but not on the road. The Wolfpack ran for 176 and 225 yards in home wins over Virginia and Boston College, respectively; and 104 and 68 yards in road losses to Clemson and Syracuse, respectively.
That trend continued on Saturday with 177 rushing yards, including a career-high 106 from senior running back Reggie Gallaspy. From the get-go, Gallaspy was finding room against FSU’s rush defense, which still ranks among the top 20 teams in the country in run defense.
On the opening drive of the game, N.C. State moved the ball down to Florida State’s 32-yard line but stalled after an incomplete pass on third down. Instead of a long field goal, Doeren decided to go for it on fourth down.
Gallaspy was able to pop through the left side of the N.C. State line for a 22-yard pickup. N.C. State put three linemen on the left side of the center — guard Josh Fedd-Jackson, guard Terronne Prescod and tackle Justin Witt — and tight end Dylan Autenrieth lined up at fullback.
Witt and Prescod created a crease, Autenrieth led Gallaspy through the hole and the running back wasn’t touched until 14-yard line. Three plays later, freshman running back Ricky Person closed out the drive with a 1-yard touchdown, the first of his three scores in the game.
2. Penalty problems
Score: N.C. State 10, Florida State 0
Time: 11:39 second quarter
Field position: 2nd and 4 at the FSU 11
Penalties are a huge problem for the Seminoles. They were flagged 16 times for 121 yards on Saturday and rank No. 123 in the country in penalty yards per game (77.8).
This is the kind of penalty FSU coach Willie Taggart has to find a way to eliminate. Person was stopped for a 5-yard loss on second down but then linebacker Jaiden Woodbey threw Person to the ground after the whistle had been blown.
Instead of an uphill climb on third down, the personal foul on Woodbey gave N.C. State a first down at FSU’s 8-yard line. On the next play, N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley hit receiver Kelvin Harmon for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead.
3. Timely interception
Score: N.C. State 20, Florida State 7
Time: 3:47 second quarter
Field position: 3rd and 5 at the FSU 30
This was a memorable series for N.C. State’s defense, not so much for FSU’s offense. On first down, defensive end Deonte Holden sacked quarterback James Blackman.
Running back Cam Akers got 12 yards back on second down and then on third down, defensive tackle Larrell Murchison fooled Blackman. On a zone blitz, Murchison dropped back into coverage and jumped up and picked off a slant route intended for receiver D.J. Matthews at the 32.
N.C. State used the prime starting field position to cash in for a quick touchdown drive and a 27-7 advantage.
4. Taggart’s gamble
Score: N.C. State 27, Florida State 14
Time: 2:08 third quarter
Field position: 4th and 1 at the FSU 34
It has been an eventful first season (to say the least) at FSU for Taggart. The Seminoles are on the verge of missing a bowl game for the first time in 37 seasons. They have already clinched a losing ACC record for only the third time.
Coming off of a 59-10 home loss to Clemson, the worst in school history, you can imagine Taggart was eager to find a way to motivate his players and somehow get the season back on track.
After staying within shouting distance, despite so many mistakes in the first half, Taggart decided on the first series of the third quarter to go for it on fourth down from his own 34-yard line.
Blackman ran a read option and handed the ball to Akers, who was promptly met in the backfield by N.C. State linebacker Isaiah Moore for a 3-yard loss. One of FSU’s biggest problems has been the offensive line. Moore, the middle linebacker, wasn’t blocked on the play.
5. Reggie runs again
Score: N.C. State 37, Florida State 21
Time: 13:49 fourth quarter
Field position: 3rd and 7 at the FSU 22
Blackman was having enough success in the air (he finished with 421 passing yards) to keep FSU in the game at the start of the fourth quarter.
N.C. State was driving on the opening possession of the fourth quarter but a pass interference call on Harmon put the Wolfpack behind the chains. A screen pass to running back Brady Bodine fell incomplete on second down. On third down, offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz turned to Gallaspy.
Autenrieth was able to get a key block in the backfield for Gallaspy and then the senior running back was able to scoot through a scrum on the left side for a 10-yard pickup.
Person was able to finish off this drive with a 2-yard touchdown catch to give the Wolfpack even more breathing room at 44-21.