Wolfpack stuns No. 15 Pirates

Published 12:04 am Sunday, September 21, 2008

By By BRIAN HAINES, Sports Writer
Raleigh — The table was turned on East Carolina in more ways than one on Saturday. The 15th ranked, BCS-busting Pirates got a taste of their own medicine as North Carolina State handed them their first loss of the season with a 30-24 overtime victory.
A quarterback who can make plays with his feet as well as his arm, a strong defense that rises to the occasion in big spots and a touchdown by a running back from Greenville: all trademarks of the Pirates’ success so far this season. However, on Saturday all the above could be attributed to the Wolfpack.
Redshirt freshman Russell Wilson showed why N.C. State (2-2) coach Tom O’Brien was so high on him coming into the season as he threw for 210 yards and three touchdowns, while running for 42 yards to hand N.C. State its biggest regular-season win since it topped No. 9 Florida State on the road in 2005.
Wolfpack running back, and J.H. Rose alum, Andre Brown put the finishing touches on the game as he busted through the Pirates’ defense for a 10-yard touchdown run on the Wolfpack’s third play in overtime to complete the upset in front of 57, 583 fans at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Pirates’ coach Skip Holtz said his team never relishes a win for more than a day, and the same philosophy would be applied to a loss.
Wilson rallied NCSU from a 24-17 fourth-quarter deficit.
He directed the Wolfpack on a seven-play, 55-yard drive.
It ended when he found tight end George Bryan in the center of the end zone for a controversial touchdown pass.
Bryan appeared to have bobbled the ball as he fell to the ground, and the play was initially ruled incomplete, but the play was overturned after an official’s review.
The Wolfpack trailed for most of the game, and never held a lead until Brown crossed the goal line in OT.
East Carolina got the ball back at its own 32 with a 1:05 left in the game and two timeouts in its pocket, but a holding call on first down pushed the Pirates back 10 yards, and took the wind out of their sails.
In overtime, quarterback Patrick Pinkney (18-31, 201 yards 1 TD, 1 INT) appeared to put their fourth-quarter stumble behind them and began marching toward the end zone from the Wolfpack 25-yard-line.
Wide receiver Dwayne Harris caught a nine-yard pass, and was followed by a Norman Whitley five-yard run to set up a first-and-10 situation at the 11.
Whitley, a redshirt sophomore, had his best game of the season as he led the Pirates with 78 yards, and scored on a 42-yard scamper.
ECU looked poised to at least come away with a field goal but, when Pinkney dropped back to pass, he was blind-sided by defensive end Shea McKeen. The McKeen hit forced a Pinkney fumble, which was recovered by the Wolfpack’s Willie Young.
In the start of the game it was the Pirates’ defense that was making the big plays. Linebacker Pierre Bell smashed Jay Smith as he attempted to catch a Wilson pass over the middle. The Bell hit forced the football up in the air, and into the hands of cornerback Van Eskridge, who darted to a 23-yard TD to give ECU a 7-0 lead.
The Wolfpack answered in the second quarter when a shanked Matt Dodge 10-yard punt allowed it to start its drive at the ECU 46-yard line.
Wilson cashed in on the prime field position. He strung together a scoring drive that ended with him throwing the first touchdown pass of his career. Wilson avoiding a blitzing Bell and found Brown for a 4-yard TD pass.
Pinkney made several big plays himself, and helped ECU recapture the lead midway through the second quarter.
Facing third and a long five from the NCSU 39-yard line, Pinkney read blitz from his left side and found an open Davon Drew. The burly tight end took the Pinkney pass and rumbled 39 yards to put ECU up 14-7.
Drew and the Pirates will look to rebound next week, when they kickoff against Houston at 3:30 p.m.
N.C. STATE 30,
East Carolina 7 7 7 3 0 — 24
N.C. State 0 7 10 7 6 — 30
First Quarter
ECU—Eskridge 23 interception return (Hartman kick), 7:47.
Second Quarter
NCSt—Brown 4 pass from R.Wilson (Czajkowski kick), 14:53.
ECU—Drew 39 pass from Pinkney (Hartman kick), 9:00.
Third Quarter
NCSt—Ja.Williams 20 pass from R.Wilson (Czajkowski kick), 10:56.
ECU—Whitley 42 run (Hartman kick), 9:40.
NCSt—FG Czajkowski 41, 1:10.
Fourth Quarter
ECU—FG Hartman 21, 4:27.
NCSt—Bryan 5 pass from R.Wilson (Czajkowski kick), 1:12.
NCSt—Brown 10 run.
First downs 18 19
Rushes-yards 30-173 34-127
Passing 210 257
Comp-Att-Int 19-32-1 24-39-1
Return Yards 47 22
Punts-Avg. 6-44.8 6-45.5
Fumbles-Lost 2-1 3-1
Penalties-Yards 3-25 4-29
Time of Possession 26:58 33:02
RUSHING—East Carolina, Whitley 9-83, Williams 6-43, Pinkney 9-38, B.Simmons 6-9. N.C. State, Brown 12-73, R.Wilson 12-26, Eugene 9-25, Beck 1-3.
PASSING—East Carolina, Pinkney 19-32-1-210. N.C. State, R.Wilson 21-31-0-210, Beck 3-8-1-47.
RECEIVING—East Carolina, Harris 10-88, J.Bryant 5-45, Drew 2-61, Taylor 1-9, Freeney 1-7. N.C. State, Eugene 7-50, Bryan 5-58, Brown 4-35, Ja.Williams 3-49, Graham 2-49, Spencer 1-11, Howard 1-4, Weaver 1-1.