ACC Football: N.C. State finished strong
By Steve Reed
CHARLOTTE ó N.C. State sophomore cornerback David Amerson wasnít thinking about breaking records coming into the season.
He ended up shattering one few thought would ever fall.
Amerson had two interceptions Tuesday night ó one that he returned 65 yards for a touchdown and another with 41 seconds left that sealed the Wolfpackís 31-24 victory over Louisville in the Belk Bowl ó to give him an ACC record 13 for the season.
Former North Carolina star Dreí Bly set the previous mark of 11 in 1996.
ěI donít know much about (Bly), but I hear a lot about him,î Amerson said. ěI heard he was pretty good and he did this as a freshman, so that speaks for itself. … Itís really an honor for me. Coming into this season I wasnít thinking about that.î
Amerson has more interceptions than his closest competitor in the nation.
Amersonís touchdown return in the third quarter was a thing of beauty, with the cornerback breaking four tackles. But it was the pick at the end of the game that prevented Louisville from capping a 21-point comeback.
ěThe DBís had to step up and make a play at the end of the game and thatís what we did,î Amerson said. ěI just saw that ball and it was like tunnel vision. I was going to go get it.î
N.C. State picked off three of Teddy Bridgewaterís passes and sacked him five times, twice knocking him out of the game for a play.
ěTheir blitz pattern was simple. Itís just that they blitz so much though that they disguised it well,î Bridgewater said. ěIt was more than Iíve been chased all year.î
Amersonís performance was a big part of the N.C. Stateís win, but he had help.
Mike Glennon, the gameís MVP, threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns, including two to senior receiver T.J. Graham, who made the most of his final game at N.C. State with seven catches for 116 yards.
Glennon threw another TD pass to Tobais Palmer, who made what Glennon called ěthe best catch Iíve seen all yearî when he completely spun his body around in the air and managed to catch the ball and keep running to the end zone. He scored from 35 yards out.
Glennon finished the season with 31 touchdown passes.
The offensive play of the game came when Graham caught a pass over the middle from Glennon and broke two tackles en route to a 68-yard touchdown reception that gave the Wolfpack (8-5) a 21-10 lead just before halftime.
N.C. State coach Tom OíBrien took a lot of heat when he decided to part ways with star quarterback Russell Wilson and go with the unproven Glennon as his starter.
It all worked out Tuesday night.
So OíBrien feels vindicated, right?
ěI never had to feel vindicated by any of that,î said OíBrien, 8-2 in bowl games. ěThat would never be my goal once I made a decision. I donít care what people think. I made a decision what was best for this football team going forward. When I made the decision and weighing all options and looking at the talent this kid has I knew we would have a quarterback. I donít have to feel vindicated by anybody.î
Then he smiled and added, ěbut he helped (vindicate) me.î
ěI knew Russell was a great player and would do great wherever he ended up but I also felt confidence in myself and I know my teammates had confidence in me, so I knew I would do just fine this year,î Glennon said.
The Cardinals finished 7-6.
ěNorth Carolina State is an outstanding football team, but we are nowhere near what we should be,î Louisville coach Charlie Strong said. ěIf you look at a team thatís what we have to get to. We have to do a better job of recruiting and we have to be able to go make plays and get playmakers into our offense and also get playmakers into our defense. It was a good learning experience for us.î
ěWe were able to come back the second half and get the game back to seven but we still were just battling and then too much pressure on the quarterback. Teddy took a beating tonight but we knew they were going to bring pressure and we just werenít able to block them and they were able to beat one on one blocks and we werenít able to get to their quarterback.î