Raleigh, NC -Tobais Palmer sucked the life out of Wake Forest (5-5, 3-5 ACC) with a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to begin the third quarter to put NC State (6-4, 3-3 ACC) up 18 on its way to a 37-6 win.
"We were really anticipating the second half being a great half being a great half, and we come out and you give up a 100-yard kickoff return," Wake Forest inside linebacker Riley Haynes said.
"That was kind of a dagger in the heart for us. It was devastating to see that, but we're still only down three scores and people have come back from that. But, at the time we weren't playing very good football and people got down. We weren't able to play our best football from that point on."
The lights did not come on for the Demon Deacons until they were down 17-0 when Chibuikem Okoro intercepted Mike Glennon to set up a 39-yard flanker pass from Michael Campanaro to Terence Davis with 10:33 remaining in the second quarter.
The rest of Wake's offensive possessions ended with punts, on downs or out of time.
"We just never were able to get anything going offensively," Wake Forest head coach Jim Grobe said. "You're stuck on six points for four quarters it's hard to beat a team like NC State. You really don't have a chance."
Wake Forest's offense never got out of the gate, as the line failed to adequately protect Tanner Price (sacked five times) and open holes for the ground game (16 yards rushing).
"I think the problem that we've got is we certainly had some issues up front, running and throwing the football, protecting the quarterback," Grobe said. "And then I thought our receivers had some opportunities to make plays and didn't make them and then Tanner didn't play very well I don't think."
"I think we're kind of in a deal where it's probably not fair, but Tanner can't play average. If he plays average we can't win. When we do have throws, when we do protect, when we do have receivers we got to hit them, so it's not anybody's fault, but I think the whole combination of not getting people blocked at times in the run and the throw game up front and then we had a lot of trouble tonight separating. They played a lot of man-coverage tonight, more man-coverage than we expected, more than we've seen out of them. We struggled to get off man-coverage and to protect long enough to give Tanner a chance to have people get free."
Price completed 18-33 passes for a meager 113 yards and an interception, while Campanaro was limited to five receptions for anemic 14 yards.
As a team Wake Forest had its worst offensive output (185 total yards) since the drubbing it received at Florida State (126 total yards) earlier this season.
"I felt like offensively we just didn't play well at all, too many mistakes across the board, receivers, me, offensive line," Price said. "We just really didn't click tonight and we weren't making plays."