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The Pack strikes back: NC State holds on against Wake Forest with a 45-42 win

Preview: Wake Forest Demon Deacons (0-1, 0-1) vs NC State Wolfpack (0-0, 0-0)

Coming into the September 19th game in Raleigh, NC (8pm EST kickoff) between the Deacs and the Wolfpack, there's plenty of intrigue.

Wake comes into tonight's game winning the last 3 games between the Big 4 and division rivals, administering a 44-10 shellacking of NC State in last year's meeting. Coming off a 37-13 loss against Clemson in last week's season opener, the team looks to even up their record, and among other areas, improve their performance in the running game (which produced 37 yards on 34 carries).

NC State is coming off an injury riddled 2019 (4-8 overall record, with a 1-7 conference record). Health is critical for the team, and with a blend of upperclassman leadership from players including quarterback Bailey Hockman (junior), running back Ricky Person, Jr (junior), senior wideout Emeka Emezie, and middle linebacker Isaiah Moore (junior), the Pack is looking to bouncing back this season, starting with snapping their losing streak against their rivals.

First half highlights: Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs NC State Wolfpack

NC State receives the opening kickoff and delivers on their first possession. Paced by 30-yard run by Ricky Person, Jr and a 17-yard completion by quarterback Bailey Hockman to wide receiver Thayer Thomas, it positions the Pack to hit paydirt. A 30-yard run by running back Zonovan Knight gives NC State a 7-0 lead (13:04 in the 1st quarter). On their second possession, the Pack keep the pressure on the Deacs with a 9-play, 82-yard scoring drive; a pair of 20-plus yard completions by Hockman to Dylan Parham (32-yard pass play) and Devin Carter (a 21-yard completion) sets up a 7-yard touchdown run by Hockman to make it a 14-0 lead (7:43 in the 1st quarter).

The Wake Forest offense would respond.

Quarterback Sam Hartman's ability to complete short and intermediate range passes to receivers Jaquarii Roberson, A.T. Perry, and Donavon Green are key in sustaining the 14-play75-yard drive. His 5-yard completion to Roberson cuts the Wolfpack lead to 14-7 (3:17 in the 1st quarter). Subsequently, the Pack would march back down the field to respond with a scoring drive; a key 3rd and 14 run by Hockman (for 14 yards) keeps the drive alive, and leading into the early part of the 2nd quarter, a 1-yard run by Pearson, Jr. pushes the Wolfpack lead to 21-7 (13:36 in the 2nd quarter).

Wake's offense would respond on their last 2 possessions of the first half.

A 9-play, 75-yard scoring drive features a critical 27-yard completion to Taylor Morin on a 4th and 10 from the Wolfpack 38-yard line. Christian Beal-Smith's 11-yard scoring run closes out the drive, getting Wake back within striking distance at the 10:38 mark of the quarter (21-14). After a steady stand by the defense, the Deacs deliver a nearly 6-minute (5:58) long possession complete with a mix of intermediate length passes, a pair of 10-plus yard runs by Kenneth Walker III, and a key conversion on a 3rd and 19 from their 41-yard line (a 23-yard connection from Hartman to Roberson). They would close out the scoring drive via a 2-yard run by Walker III, closing the half tied at 21.

For the half, just as even as the score it, so too is the stat line. NC State has a moderate edge in total offense (270 yards to 231 yards), both teams are even with 3 penalties apiece (15 penalty yards for Wake compared to 35 penalty yards for NC State), and the time of possession battle is relatively even (NC State has a slight edge, 15:21 to 14:39). One area Wake shows improvement is in the running game, averaging 3.6 yards per carry (22 carries for 80 yards). While both teams are even in having a highly effective passing attack (Wake's Sam Hartman is 14/17 for 151 passing yards and a passing touchdown while NC State's Bailey Hockman is 13/17 for 147 passing yards and a rushing touchdown), NC State's ability to run (22 carries for 123 yards, averaging 5.9 yards per carry) is an area of concern.

Second half highlights: Wake Forest Demon Deacons vs NC State Wolfpack

While Wake would start with the ball in the second half, it's NC State who gets on the board. Ricky Person Jr takes center stage with a 30 and 21-yard run to setup a 2-yard touchdown pass that he'd throw to wide receiver Devin Carter as the Pack's trickery results in a 28-21 lead at the 11:42 mark of the quarter. After their defense would hold Wake to a 3 and out (and punt the ball), the Wolfpack strikes again with a 4-play 50-yard drive, capped off by a 15-yard touchdown pass by Bailey Hockman to tight end Cary Angeline, giving them a 35-21 lead (8:56 in the 3rd quarter).

Just as it looks like NC State is about to deliver a punishing blow, the Wake defense gets a big play. A 45-yard pick 6 interception by senior cornerback and team captain Ja'Sir Taylor gets the Deacs back in the game at the 6:53 mark, cutting the lead to 35-28. Buoyed by the sterling play, the Deacs' defense stands tall and on the next drive, Hartman guides the offense. Christian Beal-Smith's 31-yard run sets the tone, and Kenneth Walker III's 13-yard touchdown run ties the game at 35 (1:24 in the 3rd quarter).

Another stand by the Deacon defense seems to have momentum going their way; unfortunately, towards the end of the 3rd quarter, a 4-yard loss by Beal-Smith and fumble puts NC State on the Wake 35-yard line. However, the Pack only produce a field goal (13:07 in the 4th quarter) to retake the lead (38-35). Wake would respond on the subsequent drive; a pair of penalties by the Pack are taken advantage of by the offense, and Walker III's 2-yard rushing touchdown gives Wake a 42-38 lead with 9:12 left in the game.

And again, the Pack would strike back.

Key plays include a 21-yard run by Jordan Houston and a 27-yard run by Zonovan Knight. Eventually, the ball would get in the hands of Ricky Person Jr for a 3-yard scoring run with 5:51 left in the game (45-42). Wake would get two more offensive possessions, but are only able to move the ball a combined 27 yards in 14 plays. NC State would hold on for the 45-42 win, snapping their 3-game losing streak to the Deacs.

Game takeaways: the NC State Wolfpack (1-0, 1-0) defeat the Wake Forest Demon Deacons (0-2, 0-2) 45-42

NC State outgains Wake Forest by a 463 to 385 (yardage) margin; the time of possession is fairly even between both teams, with NC State having a slight edge (30:59 to 29:01). NC State's penalties (6 for 65 yards) played a role, including 2 by their defense which helps Wake with one of their scoring drives (the Deacs only commit 3 penalties for 15 yards). While Wake's rushing attack shows improvement (49 carries for 149 yards, a 3.0 average), the rush defense is an area of concern, as the Wolfpack average 5.5 yards per carry (49 carries for 270 yards).

Quarterback Sam Hartman leads Wake's attack with a 23/36 performance for 236 yards and a passing touchdown. Wide receivers Jaquarii Roberson (7 catches for 75 yards and a touchdown) and Taylor Morin (3 catches for 52 yards) lead the offense. Kenneth Walker III (27 carries for 131 yards and 3 touchdowns) and Christian Beal-Smith (13 carries for 39 yards and a touchdown) contribute to the team's improved run game.

Bailey Hockman's solid effort (16/23 for 191 passing yards, 1 passing touchdown and 1 interception) at quarterback includes 30 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground. Ricky Person Jr's 14 carries for 99 yards and 2 touchdowns (as well as 1 passing touchdown) and Zonovan Knight's 1 rushing touchdown (11 carries for 97 yards) carry the team's offense.

NC State looks to improve their record with a Saturday night (September 26th at 8pm EST) game against #25 Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, VA. Wake Forest looks to break into the win column with a 12pm EST showdown (September 26th) at home against #7 Notre Dame.

Note: all photos and video are from the ACC Media Portal:

  1. Wake's Kenneth Walker III on the move. He finishes with 27 carriers for 131 yards and 3 rushing touchdowns.

  2. Ricky Person Jr's surprise 2-yard touchdown pass gives the Wolfpack the lead. He'd add 2 rushing touchdowns and 99 rushing yards (on 14 carries).

  3. The Deacs' Sam Hartman passes for 236 yards and a touchdown.

  4. Quarterback Bailey Hockman runs for a few of his 30 rushing yards; he'd add a rushing touchdown to contribute to the Wolfpack win.

  5. Hockman would add 191 passing yards and a touchdown; his interception which leads to a 45-yard return by Wake's Ja'Sir Taylor would keep the Deacons in the game.

  6. Wide receiver Jaquarii Roberson has 7 receptions for 75 yards, including this touchdown.

  7. NC State's Dylan Parham on the move.

  8. The NC State defense allows 385 yards, but not on this play.


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