GREENVILLE, N.C. - Quick hits and notes from NC State's 33-27 overtime loss at East Carolina Saturday afternoon in front of a Dowdy-Ficklen Stadium record crowd of 50,410.
'Flat as a pancake'
That was the phrase uttered by one observer in the press box about NC State's start. The Wolfpack fell behind 21-0 in the first quarter and were completely dominated by a Pirates' squad that was much more mentally prepared to play Saturday.
NC State was held without a point in the first quarter of a game for the first time this year, and that snapped a streak of 16 straight quarters where the Pack had scored. The last time State failed to score in a period was in the fourth quarter of a 28-21 win at Central Florida.
East Carolina had the ball for 9:25 in the first quarter and piled up nine first downs and 165 yards of total offense compared to just three first downs and 56 yards of total offense for the Wolfpack. ECU quarterback Dominique Davis torched State's defense by completing his first 14 passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
Fortunately for State the defense settled down, especially after halftime. ECU had just 195 yards of offense after halftime after totaling 301 at the break. The Pack's defense also forced four fumbles, all of which State recovered. That's the most ECU has lost in one game since 2005 against Southern Miss.
Both teams left points on the field Saturday, but NC State will kick themselves for going just 4 of 7 in red zone scoring opportunities. The Pack missed a first quarter short field goal attempt of 27 yards by usually reliable fifth-year senior kicker Josh Czajkowski, and State also had a a pair of turnovers, including the game-clinching interception thrown by redshirt junior quarterback Russell Wilson in overtime. NC State was also just 5 of 18 on third down conversions.
Wilson threw three interceptions Saturday, and he finished the afternoon by completing 26 of 52 passes for 322 yards and a touchdown. This was the 10th time in his career he threw for at least 300 yards and sixth time this year.
Fifth-year senior receiver Jarvis Williams caught five passes for 44 yards while senior Owen Spencer added six receptions for 98 yards. Williams now has 108 career catches to move into 12th all-time at State while Spencer has 99 career receptions for 15th place.
NC State looked to have caught a break when ECU kicker Michael Barbour botched an extra point after the Pirates scored a touchdown to start overtime. That was Barbour's first career missed extra point.
Safety Damon Magazu, a true freshman making his first career start because starting safety Derek Blacknall was suspended, saved the day by picking off a pass intended for Williams in the end zone. That was Magazu's second career pick. Wilson was also picked off on the last pass of regulation, a desperate heave with seven seconds left to fifth-year senior Darrell Davis at the ECU 6-yard line that was intercepted by junior safety Bradley Jacobs for his first career interception. The interception in overtime was Wilson's lone pass attempt in the extra session, meaning that he threw back-to-back picks to end the game.
The last time State played an overtime game was 2008, ironically against East Carolina. The Pack won that game in Carter-Finley Stadium 30-24. NC State is now 8-5 in overtime games, 2-1 under head coach Tom O'Brien. ECU improved to 6-4 in overtime contests.
What the loss means
NC State falls to 5-2, and O'Brien is now 7-4 against in-state Football Bowl Subdivision (formerly called Division I-A) teams. This is his first loss to ECU in three tries. NC State is still 16-11 all-time in the series against the Pirates. East Carolina is 2-1 in games played in Greenville, N.C. East Carolina has now won six of the last 10 games against NC State.
ECU is 4-2 for its best start since they were 4-2 in 2000. They are 20-37-1 all-time against in-state FBS teams and 29-65-1 against current members of the ACC.