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NC State holds on to beat Wake Forest 45-42 in opener

By AARON BEARD

AP Sports Writer

RALEIGH (AP) — Ricky Person Jr. scored the short go-ahead touchdown with 5:51 left to help North Carolina State edge Wake Forest 45-42 on Saturday night in the Wolfpack’s delayed season debut.

Person ran for 99 yards and two scores to lead the Wolfpack (1-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), who opened the eighth season under Dave Doeren a week later than originally scheduled due to a coronavirus-related postponement. He also threw a jump-pass TD throw near the goal line in the third quarter.

Zonovan Knight added 97 yards rushing and a score of his own for N.C. State, which ended a three-game skid in the long-running instate series.

Person’s 3-yard score finally put the Wolfpack ahead for good. Then the defense came through, with Penn State graduate transfer Daniel Joseph sacking Sam Hartman to force a fourth-and-21, followed by Hartman throwing incomplete over the middle with 1:10 left to end a drive for a tying field goal or go-ahead touchdown.

That spoiled a huge game for Wake Forest running back Kenneth Walker III, who ran for 131 yards and three touchdowns – including a 2-yard wildcat keeper with 9:12 left that gave the Demon Deacons (0-2, 0-2) a 42-38 lead.

Hartman finished with 236 yards passing and a score, while Ja’Sir Taylor had a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Bailey Hockman threw for 191 yards and a score and added TD for N.C. State after getting the nod for this one instead of expected starter Devin Leary.

THE TAKEAWAY

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons were coming off a loss to top-ranked Clemson but had won their last trip here in 2018 as well as a 44-10 home win last season. The offense had plenty of success moving the ball and finished with 385 yards despite having so many key personnel losses from last year’s unit. But they struggled to stop the Wolfpack defensively, surrendering 463 yards to an offense that didn’t score more than 26 points against any ACC opponent last year.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack had spent a week watching other ACC teams play after having its original opening game at Virginia Tech postponed amid coronavirus clusters involving Wolfpack athletes and elsewhere on campus. That came as the school temporarily paused all athletics activities, which sidelined the Wolfpack program for a week late in preseason camp. But the Wolfpack had a successful debut, with the offensive punch under new coordinator Tim Beck proving to be a highlight to go with six sacks on the defensive side.

UP NEXT

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons host No. 7 Notre Dame in a game that was originally scheduled to be played in Charlotte.

N.C. State: The Wolfpack makes its delayed visit to the Hokies next Saturday.

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More AP college football: http://apnews.com/Collegefootball and http://www.twitter.com/AP_Top25

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Follow Aaron Beard on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/aaronbeardap

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