Recap: NC State vs. Ga Southern
Raleigh, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Jacoby Brissett threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns, including the game-winner with less than two minutes remaining, as the NC State Wolfpack escaped with a 24-23 win over the Georgia Southern Eagles in non-conference play at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Brissett completed 28-of-40 and was intercepted once as NC State (1-0) won for the first time since last September. Bra'Lon Cherry was responsible for just three receptions and 19 yards, but turned them into a pair of scores for the hosts as they snapped an eight-game slide.
The Eagles (0-1) were led by quarterback Kevin Ellison who not only converted 9-of-16 passing for 184 yards and a score, he also posted a game-high 116 yards rushing on 20 attempts in the losing cause.
Now a member of the Sun Belt Conference in the Football Bowl Subdivision, the Eagles scored the first points of the afternoon when Matt Breida exploded through the middle of the line and streaked 61 yards for the touchdown minutes into the opening frame.
The Wolfpack cut the deficit to four later in the period when Niklas Sade knocked through a 41-yard field goal.
Georgia Southern appeared to score another touchdown in the second quarter when Caleb Williams intercepted a Brissett pass and returned it down the left sideline to the end zone, but he stepped out of bounds at the 15-yard line. The Eagles ran the ball on three straight plays and ended up with no yards in the series, requiring Alex Hanks to come on for a 32-yard field goal.
With less than a minute to play in the first half, Ellison scrambled to his right and tossed a 29-yard TD pass to a leaping Kentrellis Showers, giving the visitors a 17-3 lead at the break.
Sade, who missed a 52-yard field goal attempt earlier in the second quarter, had a shot at a 54-yard try with one second remaining on the clock, but it was wide to the right as time expired.
NC State was limited to just 158 yards of offense in the first half.
It wasn't until there were more than six minutes gone in the third quarter that NC State finally had a pass play of more than 20 yards as Brissett hit Jaylen Samuels down the left side for 42 yards. Following a pass interference call, Brissett lofty a six-yard TD pass to Cherry in the back corner of the end zone to make the score 17-10.
On the ensuing possession, GSU took the ball down to the two-yard line, but had to settle for a a 19-yard field goal. It was a minor victory for NC State after the program ranked 122nd in the nation in red zone defense last season.
The Eagles were again down deep in the red zone early in the fourth quarter, but a fumbled snap at the one-yard line was recovered by NC State, preventing Georgia Southern from adding to its advantage.
The Pack then put together a 99-yard drive that finished with an 11-yard TD pass from Brissett to a wide open Cherry over the middle, closing the gap to three points in the process, 20-17, with 6:55 remaining in regulation.
Just over three minutes later, the Eagles added to their advantage with a 31- yard Hanks field goal.
Refusing to give up, Brissett guided the hosts on a nine-play, 75-yard drive in the final minutes, culminating with a 35-yard strike down the right side to Matt Dayes who managed to stretch the ball inside the pylon before sailing out of bounds. The PAT by Sade gave the Pack their first lead of the day.
The Eagles still had a chance to regain the lead, but Ellison threw three straight incomplete passes, turning the ball back over to NC State which ran out the clock.
The Pack finished with 464 yards of total offense, compared to 438 for GSU.Game Notes