The Wolfpack’s season of misery continues.
There will be no bowl for the N.C. State Wolfpack in 2019. Chalk it up to whatever you want, injury losses, bad coaching, inconsistent quarterback play or whatever else, the Wolfpack season will end under .500 after a 28-26 loss to Georgia Tech on Thursday night. Trailing 28-13 entering the 4th quarter, N.C. State nearly fought all the way back, falling just short on a two-point conversion that would’ve tied the game.
The Yellow Jackets entered the game with the 125th ranked offense in the nation but looked like an offensive juggernaut against the Wolfpack’s porous defense. The Yellow Jackets were able to rush for 266 yards and over six yards per rush.
N.C. State outgained the Yellow Jackets 457-395 behind an outstanding game from freshman running back Zonovan Knight. The talented back ran for 100 yards on 18 carries and one touchdown. He kept the Wolfpack in the game, even as the passing attack struggled.
Leary finished the game 19-31 for 227 yards and one touchdown. He struggled with accuracy and was never able to get in a rhythm in the passing game early, but seemed to really hit his stride in the second half as he led the Wolfpack offense to back-to-back scoring drives. Graduate Tabari Hines had his best game as a member of the Wolfpack, catching four passes for 88 yards.
The Wolfpack began its furious comeback with a little help from its defense. Defensive end Larell Murchison fell on a botched read-option by Graham and N.C. State was able to cut the Georgia Tech lead to one-possession with 11:53 remaining in the 4th quarter.
The offense went back to work on the next possession, bringing the game to 28-26 with 5:17 left on a Ricky Person touchdown run. The subsequent two-point conversion fell incomplete and the Yellow Jackets were able to hold on to their slim lead.
Needing one more stop from the defense, the Wolfpack was unable to get it. The toothless rush defense allowed the Yellow Jackets to convert two first downs on the final drive, allowing the Yellow Jackets to run out the remaining time and not allow the Wolfpack offense back on the field.
Georgia Tech jumped on N.C. State immediately, with Graham hitting receiver Malachi Carter down the left sideline for 54 yards on the third play of the game. The Yellow Jackets were in the end zone two plays later and the Wolfpack was behind by a touchdown before many fans even had a chance to turn on their television.
The Wolfpack tried to mount a comeback drive but the effort stalled on a 4th and 2 inside the Georgia Tech red zone. The Wolfpack chose to go for it instead of taking the points but was stuffed on a wildcat run by Knight.
After a series of punts and turnovers, Georgia Tech was the first to strike again on a six-play, 50-yard touchdown drive punctuated by a 13-yard touchdown pass by Graham to put the Yellow Jackets up 14-0.
The Wolfpack offense struggled to put points on the board for most of the game against the Yellow Jacket defense. Despite averaging 4.7 yards per carry on the day, the Wolfpack struggled to convert opportunities into scores.
The Wolfpack entered the red zone six times, converting only three times for a touchdown. The Yellow Jackets had no such struggle, with their only mistake of the night being a fumble early in the second quarter.
The Wolfpack will finish its season next Saturday against hated rival North Carolina, a team that will likely be playing for bowl eligibility. As we noted earlier today, a win in the season finale would likely make the offseason much easier for Dave Doeren and his coaching staff.