College Football: N.C. State 21, Wake Forest 17

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 15, 2008

Associated Press
RALEIGH ó North Carolina State kept playing like a team worthy of a state championship, and made it that much tougher for Wake Forest to claim a more important title.
The Wolfpack remained perfect against North Carolina-based schools by beating the Demon Deacons 21-17 on Saturday night after Russell Wilson passed for two touchdowns and ran for another.
The redshirt freshman was 16-of-33 for 152 yards with scoring passes covering 11 yards to George Bryan and 8 yards to Anthony Hill in his fourth straight multi-touchdown game for the Wolfpack (4-6, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), making up for a seemingly critical turnover by leading the game-winning drive.
“I think he’s got great amnesia,” coach Tom O’Brien said. “And I think that’s what you have to have to play that position. You can’t drone on what happened.”
He helped the Wolfpack win their second straight against an in-state league rival, move to 3-0 against in-state schools from the Bowl Subdivision, take another step toward bowl eligibility and deal a serious blow to the Demon Deacons’ hopes of capturing a second Atlantic Division crown in three years.
“Now you’ve just got to play for the next best thing, and that’s 8-4,” quarterback Riley Skinner said.
Wake Forest marched to the Wolfpack 25 in the final minute before defensive tackle Alan-Michael Cash stuffed Skinner on fourth-and-6 ó one play after Skinner’s pass to the end zone went harmlessly off receiver Marshall Williams’ fingers.
“We just sent a lot of blitzes and tried to make (Skinner) think fast and just commit to what he was doing,” Wolfpack cornerback Jeremy Gray said.
Receiver D.J. Boldin caught a touchdown pass and threw another on a trick play for Wake Forest (6-4, 4-3), and Skinner was 21 of 33 for 176 yards with a touchdown and an interception.
Shane Popham gave the Demon Deacons their only lead with a 24-yard field goal in the final seconds of the third quarter, but that came after they forced a turnover deep in Wolfpack territory. Two possessions earlier, another drive stalled in the red zone when Brandon Pendergrass gained nothing on fourth-and-1 at the 17.
“That’s when you’d like to take advantage of the momentum,” Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said.
That’s when Wilson took over, leading the Wolfpack downfield and doing it primarily with his legs. He carried three times for 27 yards on the 11-play drive before capping the series by rolling left and finding Hill in the back of the end zone with 10:17 remaining.
The Wolfpack ó whose victory last week over Duke was their first since knocking off then-ranked East Carolina in mid-September ó have won 15 of 21 against Wake Forest. They have a young star quarterback to thank for the latest win, after Wilson accounted for touchdowns on his team’s first and last drives of the first half.
He capped the Wolfpack’s 12-play, opening drive with his scoring pass to Bryan, the backup tight end. His 4-yard keeper with 1:39 before the break put N.C. State up 14-7.
Chasing Wilson all night, Grobe said, “seemed like a four-quarter scramble drill.”
Still, that lead didn’t last long. Skinner led the Demon Deacons 68 yards in just 1:35, running 19 yards on third-and-8 ó two plays before his tying 7-yard touchdown pass to Boldin with 5 seconds left.
The Demon Deacons’ first score came on Boldin’s 64-yard trick play. He took the ball on a reverse and flung it deep for Williams, who got way behind cornerback DeAndre Morgan and caught the pass in stride to make it 7-7.