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Wolfpack gets best of Pirates

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
GREENVILLE — East Carolina still has a Conference USA championship to play for this season.
The goal of winning the “state championship” came up empty when the N.C. State Wolfpack pulled off a 34-20 upset victory over the Pirates. The game was played Saturday in front of 43,527 fans, the fourth-largest crowd in Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium history.
Daniel Evans threw for 335 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Wolfpack, who snapped a three-game losing streak.
The Wolfpack (2-5, 0-3 ACC) stunned the Pirates (4-4, 3-1 C-USA), who saw their three-game winning streak come to a halt, with three quick touchdowns in a span of 3:26. State took advantage of an ECU turnover and a blocked punt to score two of its touchdowns in building a 21-0 lead.
The Pirates were able to erase nearly the entire 21-0 deficit, pulling within 21-20 at one point. However, State scored the final 13 points of the game.
Freshman wideout Darrell Davis scored his first career touchdown on a 37-yard pass from Evans to get the Wolfpack on the board.
ECU running back Chris Johnson, who ran for 63 yards and a touchdown, fumbled on the next play from scrimmage, coming after a bad exchange with back-up quarterback Patrick Pinkney. Wolfpack defensive end Martrel Brown pounced on the ball at the ECU-21.
Two plays and 11 seconds after its previous score, the Wolfpack went up 14-0 when Evans fired a 21-yard bullet to John Dunlap.
The Wolfpack lead grew to 21 points early in the second quarter, giving the red-clad fans plenty to cheer about while the ECU fans sat in shock. Jimmie Sutton, who had a clear path to the punter, blocked Matt Dodge’s kick. J.C. Neal scooped up the ball and returned it 14 yards for the score.
It was the first time an ECU opponent had scored off a blocked punt since the Wolfpack accomplished that feat on Nov. 27, 2004.
Linebacker Jeremy Chambliss gave the Pirates a much-needed boost when he picked off Evans, coming after a State receiver juggled the ball, and returned it 17 yards to the Wolfpack-23.
Kass hit Johnson, who made a number of nifty moves, for a 19-yard gain to get inside the Wolfpack-1. After three straight runs that produced nothing, forcing a fourth-and-goal, Johnson barreled into the end zone over State cornerback DeAndre Morgan to pull the Pirates within 21-7.
The Wolfpack had a chance to build on its lead, but ECU freshman Linval Joseph sniffed out a fake field goal attempt and blasted kicker Steven Hauschka for a 3-yard loss. Kass then drove the Pirates 72 yards to make it a 21-14 game with 23 seconds showing on the clock.
The sophomore quarterback hit Phillip Henry for gains of 20 and 14 yards, and Michael Hickman for a 20-yard pickup, to get deep into State territory. Kass then lofted the ball to Jamar Bryant, who made a nice leaping grab over State safety Javon Walker, for an 18-yard TD reception.
ECU wasn’t done. Donald Bowens fumbled on the ensuing kickoff return, jarred loose by Chris Mattocks, and freshman Jonathan Williams fell on it at the Wolfpack 41. That set up Ben Hartman’s 47-yard field goal as time expired, pulling the Pirates within 21-17.
The Pirates were able to get within a point on Hartman’s second field goal of the game. Set up by receptions covering 15 and 10 yards by Bryant, Hartman’s 29-yarder made it 21-20 with 5:13 to play in the third.
The Wolfpack regained some momentum when Evans hit a wide open Marcus Stone for 36 yards. However, State offensive tackle Jake Vermiglio had a cheap shot on sophomore defensive end C.J. Wilson during the play.
Vermiglio drew a 15-yard penalty and an immediate ejection because of the hit, which knocked Wilson, a former standout at Northside High School, out of the game.
The Wolfpack was able to overcome the setback, getting a 41-yard field goal by Hauschka for a 24-20 lead. Bowens had receptions of 22 and 17 yards during the drive to get the Wolfpack in field goal range.
DeMario Pressley set the Wolfpack up at the ECU-32 about a minute later when he picked off a batted Kass pass. State took advantage of the turnover. Evans threw a perfect 15-yard TD strike to Jamelle Eugene for a 31-20 advantage with 8:32 to play.
Hauschka added a 21-yard field goal with 2:47 to play to close out the scoring.
ECU’s last-ditch effort saw a Kass pass fall incomplete in the end zone with a minute to play.
The Pirates return home for a Conference USA battle next Saturday in a 3 p.m. game against UAB.
N.C. STATE 34, EAST CAROLINA 20
N.C. State 14 7 0 13 — 34
East Carolina 0 17 3 0 — 20
First Quarter
NCSt—Davis 37 pass from D.Evans (Hauschka kick), 1:20.
NCSt—Dunlap 21 pass from D.Evans (Hauschka kick), 1:09.
Second Quarter
NCSt—J.Neal 20 blocked punt return (Hauschka kick), 12:54.
ECU—C.Johnson 1 run (Hartman kick), 8:02.
ECU—J.Bryant 18 pass from Kass (Hartman kick), :23.
ECU—FG Hartman 47, :00.
Third Quarter
ECU—FG Hartman 29, 5:13.
Fourth Quarter
NCSt—FG Hauschka 41, 12:42.
NCSt—Eugene 15 pass from D.Evans (Hauschka kick), 8:32.
NCSt—FG Hauschka 21, 2:47.
A—43,527.
NCSt ECU
First downs 21 21
Rushes-yards 28-49 34-72
Passing 335 254
Comp-Att-Int 29-44-1 28-53-1
Return Yards 46 29
Punts-Avg. 5-39.8 8-38.3
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 4-1
Penalties-Yards 7-54 4-49
Time of Possession 28:54 31:06
INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS
RUSHING—N.C. State, Eugene 22-63, Hauschka 1-(minus 3), D.Evans 2-(minus 5), Team 3-(minus 6). East Carolina, C.Johnson 19-63, Dodge 1-9, J.Williams 2-4, Harris 1-1, Lindsay 1-0, Kass 10-(minus 5).
PASSING—N.C. State, D.Evans 29-44-1-335. East Carolina, Kass 28-50-1-254, Pinkney 0-2-0-0, Harris 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING—N.C. State, Dunlap 8-53, Bowens 5-93, Eugene 5-45, Kushner 3-13, Stone 2-74, Blackman 2-4, Davis 1-37, Hickman 1-9, Underwood 1-8, P.Bedics 1-(minus 1). East Carolina, Henry 7-64, J.Bryant 4-54, S.Rogers 4-31, C.Johnson 4-22, Harris 3-31, Crowell 3-25, Hickman 1-20, T.Lee 1-4, Sonnhalter 1-3.