Wolfpack get easy win against No. 25 Tar Heels
Published 11:44 am Sunday, November 23, 2008
By By AARON BEARD, AP Sports Writer
CHAPEL HILL — Jamelle Eugene jogged in for a rout-punctuating touchdown to the delight of thousands of red-clad North Carolina State fans crowded into a few sections of Kenan Stadium. Most of North Carolina’s crowd had long since departed their home stadium to skip the humbling final minutes.
It was as satisfying a scene as the Wolfpack could have hoped for against their biggest rival.
Russell Wilson threw for two touchdowns and had a key run in the third quarter to set up another score, and N.C. State beat the 25th-ranked Tar Heels 41-10 on Saturday, earning the program’s first season sweep of the state’s four other major college teams in more than two decades.
Eugene ran for two touchdowns and Andre Brown ran for another for N.C. State (5-6, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), which kept its bowl hopes alive with a surprising domination of a team that entered Saturday with slim hopes of winning the league’s muddled Coastal Division race.
Instead, the only title anyone was talking about afterward was the mythical ‘‘state championship’’ the Wolfpack had focused on entering the game. N.C. State has beaten North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and East Carolina in the same season for the first time since 1986.
Certainly not on this day, anyway.
N.C. State scored 21 points in the third quarter to blow it open, earning its biggest win in the series since beating a 40-6 victory in 1989. N.C. State finished with a season-high 466 total yards while holding North Carolina to a season-low 203, handing the Tar Heels (7-4, 3-4) their most lopsided loss under second-year coach Butch Davis.
Wilson finished with a career-high 279 yards passing to go with 50 yards rushing. The redshirt freshman also extended his interception-free streak to a school-record 203 passes, part of a turnover-free day against a defense that has been one of the nation’s best at forcing mistakes.
Instead, it was North Carolina giving it away.
North Carolina committed six turnovers — two on fumbles by starting tailback Shaun Draughn in the opening 5 minutes — and got no spark from the return of quarterback T.J. Yates to the starting lineup. The Tar Heels played so badly hey heard scattered boos late in the third quarter from the same fans who ultimately headed for the exits early.
North Carolina’s previous three losses were by a combined eight points.
Yates started all 12 games last year and the first three this season before breaking his left ankle against Virginia Tech in September. One-time third-stringer Cameron Sexton had won four of six starts since, but Davis opened competition this week after Sexton’s shaky performance in last weekend’s loss at Maryland.
Yates completed 10 of 22 passes for 116 yards and an interception before Davis opted for Sexton midway through the fourth quarter. By then, the Tar Heels trailed 34-10 — though it might not have mattered who started at quarterback.
The Wolfpack managed to convert only one of Draughn’s early fumbles into a field goal and led 10-3 at halftime on Wilson’s 17-yard TD pass to George Bryan. Then, leading 17-10, N.C. State put the game out of reach.
With his mobility buying time against North Carolina’s pass rush, Wilson completed passes to convert on third and fourth down before running 26 yards to set up Brown’s 2-yard scoring run that made it 24-10.
Then, a play after Richard Quinn fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, Wilson connected with Owen Spencer for a 21-yard touchdown over the middle to push the lead to 31-10 with 1:14 left in the third quarter.
Sexton wasn’t much better than Yates, throwing two interceptions. N.C. State returned the second near the goal line, setting up Eugene’s celebratory TD run.
Ryan Houston scored North Carolina’s only touchdown on a 5-yard run.