For the second week in a row NC State has had to mount a second half rally to win. Problem is they were both against first year Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) teams.

Dueling Quarterbacks

If I didn’t know better, I’d think I was watching Jim Kelly and the 90’s Buffalo Bills Saturday night. Taylor Heinicke ran Old Dominion’s spread offense the way Kelly ran Buffalo’s K-Gun offense. Heinicke was masterful. Time after time ODU dictated the tempo and did what they wanted to offensively and the Pack defense looked helpless trying to defend. Every play ODU ran was seemingly from the shotgun formation. Pass, run, screen, reverse-pass it did not matter. It was all at breakneck speed with precision timing. When ODU went up 21-10 with 11:10 remaining in the 2nd quarter the air appeared to be sucked out of Carter-Finely Stadium. How could this team dominate the Wolfpack on its own field?

The Wolfpack and fans appeared disillusioned. There was definitely an uneasy feeling in the air. Apparently sensing all of this, ODU Head Coach Bobby Wilder rolled the dice and attempted an onside kick. Fortunately, the Pack recovered.   Had they not,  it could have been disastrous.

Later in the quarter State had a chance to steal back momentum when sophomore cornerback Jack Tocho returned a 2nd quarter fumble for a touchdown. The play was reversed when the referee ruled the receiver’s elbow was down. It was a close call, but reasonable.

Jacoby Brissett, 13-19 for 141 yards and one TD actually had a better first half stat-wise than Heinicke, but for some reason it just didn’t feel that way.

Fortunately there was a second half to play.

Sep 6, 2014; Raleigh, NC, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett (12) looks on before the start of the game against the Old Dominion Monarchs at Carter Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Visually the game kept playing tricks on my eyes. I’m not used to seeing the Pack donned in all black uniforms wearing their “new” black helmets with a big red “S” emblem. Actually ODU’s all white uniform was more reflective of the Wolfpack’s usual attire.

The Wolfpack opened the second half with a 12 play 59 yard scoring drive to reclaim the lead 25-21.

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Finally, at the beginning of the fourth quarter the Wolfpack defense forced the Monarchs’ first punt as it prepared to nurse a 32-28 lead. The ensuing drive led by Brissett would culminate in a 10 yard touchdown run by Matt Dayes providing a much needed 11 point cushion with 12:01 remaining in the 4th quarter.

Much like the Georgia Southern game last week, the Wolfpack played better defensively in the second half. No longer were 5 yard quick hitting plays going for 10-15 yards downfield.

A 23-yard scamper by Shadrach Thornton put the game away with 4:05 left. Thornton finished with 86 yards rushing and 3 touchdowns.  Offensively the Pack was very balanced with read option/wildcat plays sprinkled in with an efficient passing game. Brissett played well for the second game in a row finishing 21-29 for 253 yards and 2 touchdowns. Brissett also had an additional 45 yards on the ground.

Defensively…not so good. The Pack gave up 504 total yards.

Better shore that up real quick because the big boys are just weeks away.

Next Up:    At South Florida