The Demon Deacons, down for all but the final 30 seconds of the game, got a late 32-yard touchdown catch from tight end Jack Freudenthal to shock the Wolfpack, 27-23.
After moving up seven spots in the College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday, N.C. State (6-3, 3-3 ACC) had a chance to play in a major, New Years day bowl game for the first time in school history.
Louisvilles victory on Wednesday was sweet revenge for a 2-1 overtime loss to Wake Forest (17-2-0) in the regular season finale for both squads on Oct. 26. The two teams have gone into overtime in six of their last nine meetings, the the Demon Deacons had entered Wednesday with a seven-game winning streak over U of L.
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The Wolfpack needed some help to get to either the Peach or Fiesta bowl but it also forgot the most important part: taking care of its own business.
As a 19-point favorite at home, where it had been unbeaten this season, N.C. State couldnt get the job done. There were too many empty red-zone trips, too many dropped passes and too many big plays allowed on defense.
To say that Im disappointed would be an understatement, N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. Obviously, as the head coach, I take responsibility any time my team doesnt play the way it can.
A sluggish start on Senior Night, and perhaps magnified of the pressure of the CFP rankings, left the Wolfpack flat in the first half and then was unable to hold off an undermanned but determined Wake Forest (5-5, 2-4 ACC) in the fourth quarter.
This is the same Wake Forest team that handed N.C. State a 30-24 loss in Winston-Salem last season, which was the Wolfpacks biggest disappointment of the 2017 season.
SHARE COPY LINK NC State coach Dave Doeren talks about the Wolfpacks offensive woes and trying to get the ball to Kelvin Harmon after the loss to Wake Forest at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C. Thursday, Nov. 8, 2018.
Edit Slot to 247Sports Home Slot to N.C. State Wolfpack Newsletter Slot to N.C. State Links RALEIGH — With a short week and less than 12 hours before kickoff between NC State and Wake Forest on Thursday night, its hard to get a wealth of information about the Wolfpacks opponent. Luckily, Pack Pride pulled in Les Johns, editor of Demon Deacons Digest, to catch NC State fans up on the Deacs.
Read the five questions and answers for Johns below before Thursdays matchup to get a better idea of what to expect when the two programs kick off at 7:30 p.m.
Wake has moved the ball well this season, but have lacked explosiveness with just 21 plays of greater than 35 yards. The running game has been consistent, with both Cade Carney and Matt Colburn averaging more than five yards a carry and the Deacs collectively rushing for 229 yards on average a game.
Wake lost redshirt senior offensive lineman Justin Herron in the first game of the season to injury. He was the top returning pass rushing offensive lineman in the conference, and one of the top offensive linemen in the country. It led to a shuffling of responsibilities that moved Wake from one of the top offensive lines in the conference to just the middle of the pack. True freshman quarterback Sam Hartman has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards and 16 touchdowns, but he’s also done for the season after sustaining an injury late in the loss to Syracuse.
Redshirt sophomore Jamie Newman will take over the reins, and he pushed Hartman for the starting job in camp, but it’ll be a big change for the Deacs, and a bit of unknown. Newman is just 7-for-15 passing in his limited role this season. That doesn’t mean Wake will rely heavily on the run. With the run-pass option attack, they will look for Newman to read what the Wolfpack defense is allowing and try to exploit what weaknesses can be found. If Doeren loads the box, expect Wake to try beat them through the air, even with a new quarterback.
The Deacs are improving defensively, and held Syracuse to its third-lowest yardage output of the season last week. The Orange did capitalize on three Wake Forest turnovers, leading to a 41-24 win at BB&T Field.
A couple defenders to watch for Wake is linebacker Justin Strnad, who leads the team with 73 tackles. As the Deacs arrived in Tallahassee a couple weeks ago, he was the only scholarship linebacker physically able to play. Injuries and illness had eliminated six other scholarship linebackers aside. Also watch out for cornerback Essang Bassey, who had five pass breakups Saturday against Syracuse, one shy of a Wake Forest single-game record.
How confident are you that Jamie Newman will have the Wake offense looking competitive on a short week?
Newman battled Sam Hartman for the starting position in fall camp, and it was a late-camp groin issue that ultimately was one of the final nails in the proverbial coffin for Newman. His running style is a bit different, being both bigger and stronger than Hartman, but generally speaking the offense will stay the same. The Wake Forest players seem confident in Newman and this is his third year in the program.
With NC State and Wake going in opposite directions since last years game, how important would a win be at Carter-Finley to help turn the season around?
It would be incredibly significant. This team is scuffling right now, ravaged by injuries at basically every spot across the field. This isn’t a Louisville-like situation, however. They are still playing hard and they are still together. They believe they can steal a couple wins down the stretch and still earn bowl eligibility. It’s a tough road ahead, no doubt, but the Wolfpack won’t get a win just by showing up. Wake will compete.
Wake ranks 122nd out of 129 programs in the country in scoring defense. What, if anything, do you expect to see the Deacs do on Thursday to slow down the Wolfpack offense?
Here’s one thing that will slow the Wolfpack down Thursday night — I predict Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson will finally take his foot off the accelerator on the offensive side of the ball. Though they will likely still go no huddle, don’t be surprised for the offensive pacing to slow significantly, giving the Wake Forest defense a bit more time to catch its breath.
The Deacs feel they are lining up better and have improved overall defensively in recent weeks, and the injuries sustained on that side of the ball have been baked in now generally for the last few weeks — they’re used to those loses and have worked around them for a few games now. They held Syracuse to just one explosive play Saturday and will work to keep the ball in front of them. That could lead to more long, sustained drives by the Pack.