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Brissett rallies NC State for 24-23 win over Georgia Southern in season opener

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/30/16/10/18wKUM.Em.138.jpeg|227
    Ethan Hyman - ehyman@newsobserver.com
    N.C. State's Matt Dayes (21) beats Georgia Southern cornerback Darius Jones (5) as he scores on a 35-yard-touchdown reception to tie the game 23-23 during the final minutes of the Wolfpack's 24-23 victory at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/30/17/54/BCHMj.Em.138.jpeg|219
    Ethan Hyman - ehyman@newsobserver.com
    The offense surrounds N.C. State's Matt Dayes (21) after he scored on 35-yard-touchdown reception to tie the game 23-23 during the second half of the Wolfpack's 24-23 victory over Georgia Southern Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. The extra point put the Wolfpack ahead.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/30/15/57/7w9wI.Em.138.jpeg|257
    Ethan Hyman - ehyman@newsobserver.com
    N.C. State quarterback Jacoby Brissett (12) is tackled by Georgia Southern linebacker Edwin Jackson (40) after a run during the first half at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/30/17/54/1c59ce.Em.138.jpeg|203
    Ethan Hyman - ehyman@newsobserver.com
    Georgia Southern wide receiver Kentrellis Showers (80) pulls in a 29-yard-touchdown as N.C. State safety Dravious Wright (8) defends during the first half at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/30/17/54/yXsOA.Em.138.jpeg|175
    Ethan Hyman - ehyman@newsobserver.com
    N.C. State safety Jarvis Byrd (1) can't believe it after he almost picked off a Georgia Southern pass during the first half of the Wolfpack's game against Georgia Southern Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014, at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.

More Information

  • NC State - Ga. Southern 08.30.14
  • NC State tailgaters 08.30.14
  • After rough start, Wolfpack’s finish counts
  • Replay: Ga. Southern at NC State
  • Game summary
  • Highs

    Going 99 to score

    The Wolfpack trailed 20-10 and Georgia Southern had the ball at the NCSU 1 with 11 minutes left in the fourth quarter. But Eagles quarterback Kevin Ellison fumbled on a sneak, the Wolfpack’s Monty Nelson recovered and N.C. State put together a 12-play, 99-yard drive for a touchdown.

    “The turning point of the game,” coach Dave Doeren said.

    Byrd on the breakup

    Wolfpack safety Jarvis Byrd made a jarring hit on Eagles receiver B.J. Johnson on a fourth-down pass with 1:01 left in the game. The breakup sealed the victory for the Pack and was a sweet moment for Byrd, a graduate student who once considered giving up football after a third serious knee injury.

    “It’s like a dream come true,” said Byrd, who received a game ball from Doeren.

    Stamina the difference

    Jason Veltkamp, the Wolfpack’s strength and conditioning coach, was another who was given a game ball. Doeren was quick to praise the work of Veltkamp and the strength staff in the offseason and in preseason camp, saying the players were in better shape than the Eagles and it was the difference in the fourth-quarter comeback.

    “We weren’t cramping, we weren’t laying on the ground, we weren’t tired,” Doeren said. “We were just playing.”

    Lows

    Bitten by big plays

    The Eagles had a 61-yard run for a first-quarter touchdown by Matt Breida and a 29-yard TD pass on third down in the final minute of the first half in pushing the Wolfpack into a 17-3 hole. The Eagles’ Ellison had a 52-yard option run in the fourth quarter that set up Georgia Southern’s final points.

    Unhappy halftime

    There were no happy faces in the N.C. State locker room at halftime, not after a mostly miserable first 30 minutes of football. Doeren had some stern words for his team.

    “He challenged us. He asked us, ‘Did we do all that work for nothing?’ ” said receiver Bra’Lon Cherry, who had two touchdown grabs in the second half.

    Bad decision

    The Wolfpack, trailing 20-10 as the third quarter ended, had fourth-and-1 at the Georgia Southern 9 as the fourth period began. The decision was made to go for a first down rather than attempt a field goal and make it a one-score game. Running back Shadrach Thornton took a direct snap from center and was stopped for no gain.

    Chip Alexander



RALEIGH In the first half of Saturday’s season-opener against Georgia Southern, N.C. State looked a lot like the team that finished the 2013 season.

The offense was indecisive, the run defense was problematic and the Wolfpack was down two touchdowns at the half.

Then the second half was nothing like anything the Wolfpack went through last season.

“You saw a different team in the second half,” quarterback Jacoby Brissett said.

A different team, different Brissett and a different result: Brissett threw for three touchdowns, including the game-winner with 97 seconds left, to lift the Wolfpack to a 24-23 comeback win.

“It was a pretty good performance for a first game,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said of his new quarterback.

Just when it looked like N.C. State was headed toward a ninth straight loss, Brissett and the Wolfpack offense found another gear for their first win since last September.

Down 17-3 at the half and 20-10 to start the fourth quarter, the Wolfpack took its only lead of the game on Brissett’s 35-yard touchdown pass to running back Matt Dayes with 1:37 left in the game.

Brissett also hit sophomore receiver Bra’Lon Cherry for a pair of touchdowns in the second half and N.C. State’s defense, despite giving up 246 yards on the ground, came up with a big turnover that aided the fourth-quarter comeback.

It was Brissett who made the difference after a sluggish start. He was 18 of 23 for 213 yards with three touchdowns in the second half, compared to 10 of 17 for 78 yards with no touchdowns and one interception.

Brissett wasn’t interested in taking any of the credit for the win, though. He was quick to praise his offensive line – which didn’t give up a sack in the second half – the defense, running back Shad Thornton (10 carries, 73 yards) and receiver Bo Hines (nine catches, 85 yards).

“I don’t know what to say,” Brissett said. “We really played great fourth-quarter ball. That’s what we’ve been stressing – playing together and playing as a team and focusing on finishing the game.”

Georgia Southern, in its first season in the Football Bowl Subdivision after years of dominating the Division I-AA level, almost spoiled Brissett’s debut.

On the first play of the fourth quarter, the Eagles led 20-10 and held the Wolfpack on fourth-and-1 from the 9-yard line.

Quarterback Kevin Ellison, who ran for 116 yards and threw for 184, led the Eagles down to the Wolfpack 1-yard line on the subsequent drive. On second-and-goal from the 1, Ellison lost his footing and then lost the ball. N.C. State defensive tackle Monty Nelson came out of the pile with the ball.

Brissett led a 12-play, 99-yard drive to cut the Eagles’ lead to 20-17. Brissett completed six passes on the drive, including three to Hines, before finding Cherry wide open in the middle of the field for an 11-yard score.

The Eagles responded with a quick drive into Wolfpack territory but with Ellison shaken up after a 52-yard run, they had to settle for a 31-yard field goal and a 23-17 lead with 3:35 to play.

Brissett went 8 of 9 on the final drive and hit Dayes down the right sideline for the game-winning score. Last year, with Brissett sitting out after transferring from Florida, that might have ended with a turnover and a loss.

“We had absolute confidence Jacoby was going to take us down the field to score,” Thornton said.

The Eagles jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 61-yard run by Matt Breida. The Wolfpack defense was losing Ellison on the option and was confused when Ellison – who entered the game with two career TD passes – took to the air.

The Eagles stretched their lead to 17-3 when Ellison hit receiver Kentrellis Showers for a 29-yard score with 34 seconds left in the first half.

But the Wolfpack defense held the Eagles to a pair of field goals in the second half. And Brissett, who hadn’t started a game since 2012, found his form.

“The beauty of football is it’s a four-quarter game,” Doeren said.

NC STATE 24, GEORGIA SOUTHERN 23

Georgia Southern7103323
NC State3071424

First Quarter

GaSo—Breida 61 run (Hanks kick), 9:07.

NCSt—FG Sade 41, 4:52.

Second Quarter

GaSo—FG Hanks 32, 8:35.

GaSo—Showers 29 pass from K.Ellison (Hanks kick), :34.

Third Quarter

NCSt—Cherry 6 pass from Brissett (Sade kick), 8:02.

GaSo—FG Hanks 19, 3:23.

Fourth Quarter

NCSt—Cherry 11 pass from Brissett (Sade kick), 6:55.

GaSo—FG Hanks 31, 3:35.

NCSt—Dayes 35 pass from Brissett (Sade kick), 1:37.

A—54,273.

GaSoNCSt
First downs1826
Rushes-yards47-24635-173
Passing192291
Comp-Att-Int10-17-028-40-1
Return Yards4033
Punts-Avg.4-50.83-49.7
Fumbles-Lost4-11-0
Penalties-Yards3-354-20
Time of Possession32:2727:33

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING—Georgia Southern, K.Ellison 20-116, Breida 10-87, Ramsby 15-36, Upshaw 1-8, Scott 1-(minus 1). NC State, Thornton 10-73, Dayes 6-34, Creecy 8-31, Brissett 6-28, Samuels 1-8, Cherry 1-3, Team 3-(minus 4).

PASSING—Georgia Southern, K.Ellison 9-16-0-184, Upshaw 1-1-0-8. NC State, Brissett 28-40-1-291.

RECEIVING—Georgia Southern, Walker 5-84, Showers 2-59, B.Johnson 2-12, Crockett 1-37. NC State, Hines 9-85, Dayes 6-70, Valdes-Scantling 3-25, Cherry 3-19, Grinnage 2-24, Alston 2-7, Samuels 1-42, Purvis 1-10, Louis 1-9.

Giglio: 919-829-8938
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