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At halftime, with a 10-7 lead over Boston College, N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren had a feeling his team had taken the Eagles’ best shot.
Boston College ran at will, found some open receivers and played their brand of football. The Eagles only had seven points to show for it. They threw their best punch early and didn’t have anything left for the various counters from the Wolfpack.
N.C. State shot itself in the foot a few times in the first half, but made the proper adjustments needed. They felt like they were in good shape and it showed.
“I was hoping we could get the adjustments made that we needed to,” Doeren said. “I told them, ‘you’re going to get punched in the mouth, that’s who BC is.’ But that doesn’t mean they won the game (at the half) it just means they hit you.”
N.C. State hit back and the Eagles went to the corner and threw in the towel. The Wolfpack left the northeast with an impressive 33-7 win, perhaps their most complete performance of the season.
All year long Doeren has talked about complementary football and that’s exactly what he got from his team. N.C. State moved the ball effectively on offense (381 total yards), scored on special teams (Devan Boykin scoop and score) and picked off Eagles’ quarterback Dennis Grosel.
The defense held Boston College to 97 yards rushing, a team that came in averaging 170.8 yards on the ground. With a narrow 10-7 lead at halftime, N.C. State played it’s most complete half of football, scoring 23 unanswered after intermission.
For the second straight game, the Wolfpack didn’t turn the ball over and forced a turnover for the fourth straight contest. While Trenton Gill and Christopher Dunn have been solid in the kicking game all season, the scoop and score by Boykins came on a muffed snap on a punt attempt. The offense, defense and special teams all came to play in Chestnut Hill.
“It was fun to see blood in the water and not let them back in the game,” Doeren said. “That’s what championship football teams do. Guys took advantage of our momentum and never gave them any back.”
The championship football team talk becomes more of a reality with each win. N.C. State is 2-0 in league play, both Atlantic Division games. After an out-of-division trip to Miami next week, the Wolfpack play four consecutive Atlantic Division games, starting with Louisville on Oct. 30.
It’ll take more of that complementary football, consistently, for N.C. State to make it to Charlotte in December. Saturday’s win over Boston College should make even the most pessimistic Wolfpack fan a believer. The key is playing consistently in all three phases of the game each week.
Coming off a bye week, this was an ideal outing for Doeren and company.
“That’s all we’ve been talking about all season,” Doeren said. “Tonight I thought we were really good in that fashion.”
Wide receiver Thayer Thomas, who caught four passes for 122 yards and a score, said the team “kept at it.”
Thomas has been around long enough to remember when N.C. State teams would have let downs late. With the three-point lead at the half and BC getting the ball back, this game was set up for another let-down. Thomas knows this team is different.
“My time here, sometimes we tried to play it too safe,” Thomas said. “I think we did a great job just keeping the foot on the gas. The guys, whoever was in, made plays.”
The game was highly competitive in the first half. Linebacker Isaiah Moore said the defense was “on our heels” in the first half. In the second half, the defensive unit was more aggressive and controlled the contest.
“We just have to get back to what we do,” Moore said. “That’s playing aggressive and playing for each other. We felt like we were in control of the game at halftime, we just felt like we needed to do some things to compete at a high level. Just bigtime complementary football.”
Part of the issues in the first half was the Eagles did some things they hadn’t put on film.
Doeren knew they were going to try and establish the run, but they used different motions. N.C. State needed to adjust how they were lining up and fitting the runs. Once they got into the locker room at halftime and the coaches were able to show the team on the whiteboard, the proper adjustments were made.
“The kids didn’t understand it at first,” Doeren said. “Once we were able to draw it up and settle them down, the guys did a much better job.”
Boston College only had 119 yards after halftime. They had -11 on the ground after the break.
N.C. State scored 21 points in the third quarter and forced two turnovers, maybe their most complete quarter of the season.
“The offense doing their part, the defense doing their part, special teams doing their part,” Doeren said. “We told our players if we don’t outplay their special teams we won’t win, and the guys did. We played really well across the board.”