Tight end’s catch seals N.C. State spring game
By Aaron Beard
RALEIGH ó George Bryan spent his first year toiling on North Carolina State’s scout team and watching from the sidelines on game days. He’ll have a little more to build on for the fall after his big catch Saturday.
The redshirt freshman came down with the ball in the end zone on a final-play desperation heave to help Red beat White 23-21 in the Wolfpack’s annual spring game, capping a back-and-forth final 90 seconds that put Bryan on the radar for N.C. State fans heading into the summer.
“He’s like a lot of the freshmen,” said coach Tom O’Brien, who is preparing for his second season. “This was their first opportunity to really get coached and show what they had.”
Bryan came into spring drills listed as the No. 2 tight end behind junior Matt Kushner. Both will be behind All-ACC performer Anthony Hill in the fall as the fifth-year senior works his way back from a knee injury that cost him the 2007 season.
But by the end of the intrasquad scrimmage, Bryan was a star thanks to a determined effort on one play.
After Russell Wilson’s 25-yard keeper gave White a 21-17 lead with 1:12 to play, Justin Burke led Red downfield as the seconds ticked away. Finally, with the team facing fourth down from the 30-yard line with 4.9 seconds left, there was time for only one more throw.
While Burke scrambled to his right while being pursued by multiple defenders, Bryan was knocked down by linebacker Audi Cole. But he quickly got to his feet and headed to the end zone as Burke lobbed the pass downfield, getting there just in time to leap for the ball amid a crowd of defenders.
As the group hit the ground, Bryan somehow got his hands on the ball and pulled it in despite being at the bottom of the pile. After a few seconds, referees signaled it was a touchdown, sending the Red team spilling onto the field to celebrate.
“(Burke) lined us up and told us to get in the end zone and look for the ball,” Bryan said. “We all were trying real hard. Everybody was fighting and I just came up with the ball.”
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