West Virginia kept committing penalties and making mistakes.
N.C. State just couldn’t take advantage of them. Its defense wouldn’t let them.
Quarterback Austin Kendall threw three touchdowns and the Mountaineers used a key blocked punt to beat N.C. State 44-27 on Saturday afternoon.
The Wolfpack (2-1) was missing its top pass-rusher (defensive end James Smith-Williams) and top cover corner (Nick McCloud) while West Virginia’s previously inept offense suddenly found its stride after a 31-point loss last week.
“I told them, ‘I said they got embarrassed last week in Missouri,’ ” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren told the media after the game. “You’re going to get their best.”
West Virginia delivered its best shot, with 445 total yards, after a combined total of 465 in the first two games. Kendall took advantage of good protection, even while missing both of his starting guards, and completed 27 of 40 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns.
WVU (2-1) had only 30 rushing yards in last week’s loss to Mizzou. The Mountaineers piled up 173 against the Wolfpack. N.C. State, meanwhile, had 25 rushing yards on 15 carries in the second half.
“I just thought in the trenches, which is where we’ve been good, we were not good today,” Doeren said.
Kendall found a rhythm and running back Kennedy McKoy (66 yards, two touchdowns) found some room. The Mountaineers needed the offensive outburst to overcome 12 penalties for 105 yards.
McKoy’s 5-yard touchdown run, set up by a punt block by Logan Thimons at 6:51 in the third quarter, gave WVU a 31-21 lead.
The Mountaineers led 7-0 and 14-7 before N.C. State took a 21-14 advantage with 3:13 left in the first half on a trick play. Receiver Thayer Thomas hit tight end Cary Angeline on a double-pass for an 18-yard touchdown for a 21-14 lead.
But N.C. State’s offense left Kendall too much time. He led a quick 92-yard drive, capped by a 13-yard TD pass to receiver George Campbell to tie the game up before the end of the half.
A 23-yard field goal by Evan Staley and the blocked punt ended up being the cushion West Virginia needed in the second half.
Sophomore quarterback Matt McKay struggled in his first road start. He completed 23 of 48 passes for 207 yards with a touchdown. N.C. State’s offense, after scoring three touchdowns in the first half, was held out of the end zone in the second half by WVU.
“They turned it up in the second half and we didn’t really match it,” Thomas said.
Freshman linebacker Drake Thomas had a third-quarter interception to set up N.C. State’s offense at the WVU 21.
Sophomore receiver Thayer Thomas, Drake’s older brother, caught a touchdown and threw for one in the first half.
After its quick-change play (the blocked punt), WVU punched in a touchdown. After its quick-change play (the interception), N.C. State settled for a field goal.
N.C. State has lost its past four nonconference road games against Power 5 opponents.
2 The last two field goals N.C. State kicker Chris Dunn actually missed (and were not blocked) have come in the state of West Virginia. He missed a 31-yarder last year at Marshall and a 51-yard on Saturday.
12 West Virginia running back Kennedy McKoy had 12 rushing yards in the first two games of the season. He had 66 on 10 carries on Saturday.