NC State

Game review: Five key plays in NC State’s shutout win over Western Carolina

N.C. State’s defense was good all game against Western Carolina. It took the Wolfpack offense a minute to get going.

It was only 3-0 after the first quarter, but the ground game got going (for 309 yards) and the defense didn’t allow the Catamounts onto its side of the field after the opening drive.

Five key plays in the 41-0 home win for the Wolfpack:

1. No guts, no glory

Score: N.C. State 0, WCU 0

Time: 12:33, first quarter

Field position: third-and-8 at the N.C. State 36

Western Carolina ran 46 plays on Saturday, only four times did the Catamounts snap the ball on N.C. State’s side of the 50-yard line. All of them came on the opening drive and one was a punt. After a 2-yard pickup on a screen pass on first down, WCU quarterback Will Jones missed tight end Owen Cosenke on second down.

On third-and-8, Jones was pressured from the outside by linebacker Isaiah Moore and tried to hit receiver Mahari Stribling on the sideline about 5 yards past the first-down marker. N.C. State nickel Tyler Baker-Williams was there to break up the attempt.

If he knew then what he knows now, WCU coach Mark Speir probably would have opted to go for it on fourth down instead of punting.

2. Two sacks, one possession

N.C. State defensive end Xavier Lyas (97) sacks Western Carolina quarterback Will Jones (15) during the first half of N.C. State’s game against Western Carolina at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. Ethan Hyman

Score: N.C. State 0, WCU 0

Time: 8:41, first quarter

Field position: third-and-19 at the WCU 33

After N.C. State went three-and-out on offense on its first possession, the defense got two sacks on WCU’s next possession.

On third-and-long, senior defensive end Deonte Holden pressured Jones from the front and then lanky sophomore defensive end Xavier Lyas chased him down for the sack and a 4-yard loss.

3. Blast from the ‘JaySam’ Past

N.C. State wide receiver Keyon Lesane (85) avoids the tackle by Western Carolina defensive back Devarius Cortner (19) during the first half of N.C. State’s game against Western Carolina at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. Ethan Hyman

Score: N.C. State 0, WCU 0

Time: 7:08, first quarter

Field position: first-and-10 at the WCU 40

Last year, Steph Louis was going to get some of the old plays N.C. State had used for Jaylen Samuels out of the slot. When Louis got injured midway through the season, most of those jet sweeps and gadgets were mostly put on ice.

Through two games this season, coordinators Des Kitchings and George McDonald have dusted off the “JaySam” catalog for running back Jordan Houston and receiver Keyon Lesane.

On N.C. State’s second drive, with the ball on the far left hash, Lesane came in motion and got the handoff from quarterback Matt McKay on the run. With a good kickout block by tight end Dylan Parham, Lesane came sweeping across the field for 22 yards. The drive ended with a 32-yard field goal by Chris Dunn for a 3-0 lead.

4. Pounding Person

N.C. State running back Ricky Person Jr. (8) breaks free from Western Carolina defensive lineman K.J. Milner (96) during the first half of N.C. State’s game against Western Carolina at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Sept. 7, 2019. Ethan Hyman

Score: N.C. State 3, WCU 0

Time: 9:21, second quarter

Field position: first-and-10 at the WCU 18

N.C. State’s first possession of the second quarter stalled after a false-start penalty. After that, you got the distinct feeling that Kitchings and McDonald had decided to just pound the ball on the ground.

A 9-yard rush by Bam Knight, who finished with 119 yards, started a string of six consecutive runs by the Wolfpack offense.

On first-and-10 at the WCU 18, Ricky Person pounded off the right hip of center Grant Gibson and then carried four defenders for an 11-yard pickup. Two plays later, Person had the Wolfpack’s first touchdown of the game, a 6-yard run for a 10-0 lead.

5. 2-minute drill practice

Score: N.C. State 17, WCU 0

Time: :55, second quarter

Field position: third-and-4 at the WCU 19

It’s always good to get a young quarterback some experience in a 2-minute drill. That it was a chance in a low-pressure situation, all the better.

McKay got the ball back with 2:08 left in the half at his own 32 and two timeouts. He hit tight end Cary Angeline for a 28-yard gain on a well-designed play to start the drive.

McKay hit his first three passes on the drive before a drop by receiver Emeka Emezie on second down left the Wolfpack with a third-and-4 to pick up.

Coach Dave Doeren said earlier in the week he wanted freshman receiver Devin Carter to step up in the absence of injured junior receiver C.J. Riley. Carter did just that on this play. Lined up wide to McKay’s right, Carter ran a post to the middle of the field and used his body to get in front of WCU cornerback Ronald Kent for an 18-yard gain.

Knight couldn’t punch it in on the next play from the 1-yard line, but McKay hit Angeline in the back of the end zone for a touchdown to cap the drive and to take a 24-0 lead.

In all, the drive took 1 minute and 58 seconds. McKay had some struggles on deep throws on Saturday, but he completed 5-of-6 passes for 69 yards on this drive and looked as good as he did at any point in the game.

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Joe Giglio has worked at The N&O since 1995 and has regularly reported on the ACC since 2005. He grew up in Ringwood, N.J. and graduated from N.C. State.
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