Gameday Live Blog/Open Thread: State vs. UNC

Brett Friedlander

Somehow it's appropriate that a dreary 2019 football season ends this way -- on a dreary, cold and wet evening at Carter-Finley Stadium with nothing on the line for NC State other than pride and the opportunity to eliminate a hated rival from bowl contention.

If keeping the Tar Heels home for the holidays isn't enough incentive for the Wolfpack to give a strong effort tonight, it's also Senior Night for 12 upperclassmen that have enjoyed their share of success, but are now playing their final college game regardless of tonight's outcome.

There's a sparse gathering in stands 15 minutes from kickoff, which is a shame considering that the seniors being honored deserve better than this. It will be interesting to see if State's players are more motivated than their fans.

Pregame

Well, fireworks still go off even when they're wet. The pregame pyrotechnics went off as usual for the Wolfpack's entrance into the stadium. But there's a solid cloud of smoke now hanging over the far end zone. Hopefully it will dissapate by the time the seniors are introduced and we're ready for kickoff.

Nice contrast in uniforms tonight ... State looking sharp in all redf while UNC is wearing its blue pants and helmets to go along with its white jerseys.  ...

Senior James Smith-Williams won't be playing in his final game tonight. He's wearing his jersey, but isn't in uniform. He's on the field with the other captains for the coin toss now. Fellow captain Dylan Autenreith, who's been out since Week 3 with an injury, is also out there for the toss ...

NC State wins the toss and elects to defer ... UNC will get the ball first 

First quarter

They say you can throw out the records in a rivalry game. That might be true, but playing a rival doesn't erase deficiencies that have plagued a team throughout the second half of the season. In the case of the Wolfpack, it's an injury riddled secondary that has trouble covering everybody deep. That doesn't bode well for State tonight, as illustrated by the 45-yard pass UNC's Sam Howell just completed to Dyami Brown. Freshman Malik Dunlap was on "coverage." It could be a long night for the kid. ...

Isaiah Moore just leveled Antonio Williams and forced a fumble. He might have recovered the ball, too, but he was too busy celebrating, so #UNC's Sam Howell fell on the loose ball. The play did, at least, force a punt. ...

Former Wolfpack baseball star and current Washington Nationals World Series champion Trea Turner being honored as State's honorary captain during the change of possession ...

Zonovan Knight had 100 yards against Georgia Tech last Thursday. He's already off to a strong start tonight with 12 yards on three carries and a 16-yard gain on a screen pass. Zonovan Knight had 100 yards against Georgia Tech last Thursday. He's already off to a strong start tonight with 12 yards on three carries and a 16-yard gain on a screen pass ...

Zonovan Knight in traffic vs UNC
Zonovan Knight gains yardage in the first halfRob Kinnan/USAToday sports

Here's another example of a deficiency that continues to haunt the Wolfpack -- driving the length of the field impressively, only to stall in the red zone where it has to settle for a Christopher Dunn field goal. This one was 30 yards. State takes an early 3-0 lead, but leaves points on the field it might need later ...  Wolfpack 3, Tar Heels 0

Trenton Gill slips on the ensuing kickoff and Michael Carter returns it 35 yards to give UNC good field position ...

And now Javonte Williams slips and falls in the backfield when he had a hole to run through. Footing is definitely treacherous out there. And it doesn't promise to get much better as the game goes on ...

State rediscovered the ground game in the second half at Tech last Thursday and stuck with it even when it trailed. Good to see Kitchings and McDonald coming back with it again today, especially in these conditions ...

Players on both teams jump and everyone starts pointing at everyone else. Doeren is VERY upset when they call a false start penalty on State and comes out all the way to the numbers to express his displeasure. Now Emezie drops a third down pass that was right on the money. Drive stalled ...

Alim McNeill with a sack of Howell. That's the only way State is going to be able to contain the young QB ... put him under duress and put him on the ground before he can throw it ...

And that's the end of a quick first quarter ... State 3, UNC 0

state-unc fb box 1st

Second quarter

Aaaaaand the players are "celebrating" on the field after a hard hit on punt coverage by Cecil Powell. The hit was legal, the excessive "celebrating" (as former UNC coach Larry Fedora once called it) wasn't ... 15 yard penalty on State's Isaiah Stallings ...

UNC lines up to go for it on fourth and three from the State 43 and the Wolfpack has trouble getting the right players on the field … forcing it to call timeout

Everything that could go wrong for State did go wrong on that fourth down play. Wolfpack jumps, making it a free play, so Howell drops a dime to Dyami Brown for a 33 yard gain inside the 10 ...

Howell flushed out of the pocket and stopped at the 3 ... Tar Heels will attempt the tying field goal. Noah Ruggles good from 20 yards out and it's tied ... State 3, UNC 3

State is averaging better than 5 yards per carry and was having a lot of success on the ground early. But the last two possessions it has started throwing the ball around in the rain. Not sure why ...

Wolfpack season in a nutshell. Murchison puts pressure on Howell and forces an incompletion on third down .... but someone was offside, giving the Tar Heels a first down. Self-inflicted mistakes. ...

Freshman DE Joseph Boletepeli was just credited with his first tackle since the Boston College game on Oct. 19 ... One play later, Boletepeli gets his first sack since being credited with a half sack against Western Carolina on Sept 7. ...

Alim McNeill sack on Howell
Alim McNeill sacks UNC quarterback Sam HowellRob Kinnan/USAToday sports

UNC gets another short field goal to take its first lead of the night ... Tar Heels 6, Wolfpack 3, 4:13 left in the half

Payton Wilson, who originally committed to #UNC, just picked off Howell, grabbing a rebound off the hands of receiver Beau Corrales and returning it 16 yards … dishing out a little punishment along the way. ...

Hines catches a ball and steps out a half yard short of the first down marker ... My guess is that State is going to go for this one with 2 minutes left in the half at the UNC 41. ... After Leary sneaks to get the first down, he finds Hines WIDE open down the far sideline and for a 39-yard touchdown. Dunn's extra point makes it State 10, UNC 6 with 1:25 left in the half

Down goes Howell for the third time … second time at the hands of McNeill. Wolfpack doing a great job winning the wars in the trenches. Not letting Howell throw downfield

Looks like UNC is going to attempt a very long field goal on the last play of the half. It's way short from 55 yards out and Thayer Thomas pads his return yardage by bringing the miss back all the way out toward midfield. … exciting way to end the half (sort of) … State 10, UNC 6

halftime box unc state fb 19

Third quarter

 A holding penalty sets State back and derails the opening possession of the second half. But State's defense gets a quick three-and-out (all on running plays) to give the offense the ball right back ...

Leary takes a rare shot down field and had Carter for a moment, but UNC's Storm Duck recovers and makes a nice play to break the pass up. Even though it didn't hit, that will soften a defense up. It's not something we've seen from the Wolfpack much all year ...

Then Leary makes a mistake by throwing an interception to Don Chapman, giving the Tar Heels the ball near midfield ...

The defense then compounds things my missing two tackles, allowing Javonte Williams to turn a 1-yard pass into a 21-yard gain. One play later, Williams bursts through the middle for the final 29 yards and a touchdown that puts the Tar Heels back on top ... UNC 13, State 10

We've seen this before ...

This is a HUGE possession coming up for State ...

Jordan Houston got tackled while a pass was in the air and there's no call. Adding injury (literally) to insult, Houston is hurt on the play ...

Just as it did against Louisville, State is wasting a solid first half with a miserable third quarter. UNC gets its second TD of the period, this one on an 11-yard pass from Howell to Williams, and the Tar Heels have opened up a 20-10 lead with 5 minutes left in the quarter ... 

It's officially coming apart for the Wolfpack. Again. A Knight fumble gives the ball back to UNC with a chance to put State away ...

Javonte Williams with his third touchdown of the quarter and it's officially Louisville revisited. Wolfpack halftime lead is now a 27-10 deficit. Give State credit for at least this: You always know what you're going to get from it. No surprises. ...

More "celebrating" going on over at the UNC bench after that kick return. Refs might want to keep a close eye on this so that it doesn't get out of control. Still a full quarter to go ...

Devin Leary throwing v UNC
Devin Leary was intercepted twice in the third quarterRob Kinnan/USAToday sports

Leary hit as he throws and it's intercepted by Trey Morrison. Third turnover of the quarter for State. It's getting ugly, folks ...

And it gets even uglier ... Kishawn Miller holds Dyami Brown, but Brown still manages to get wide open behind the beleaguered State cornerback … 52-yard touchdown pass and the rout is on. UNC 34, State 10

Doeren has seen enough. Bailey Hockman replaces Leary at QB. First time he's played since the BC game on Oct. 19. ...

Third quarter mercifully over … State's 10-6 halftime lead is now a 34-10 deficit

state-unc fb 3rd box

Fourth quarter

UNC scored 21 points of the Wolfpack's three turnovers in the third quarter. For the season, State has now surrendered 87 points as a direct result of turnovers. Pretty much explains why it hasn't won since Oct. 10 ...

Aaaaaaand there's yet another UNC touchdown. Fifth of the second half. Howell to Dazz Newsome for 13 yards and it's now 41-10. Thirty-five unanswered points in the second half for the Tar Heels. ...

Emezie makes a great catch backing into the end zone for what appeared to be a touchdown. But it was ruled that he stepped out of bounds and was still out of bounds when he caught the ball ... so it's ruled incomplete. ...

Myles Dorn rips the ball out of Angeline's hands for UNC's third interception of the second half. ... Been that kind night for the Wolfpack. Been that kind of season ...

UNC takes a knee and the game -- and State's 2019 season -- are mercifully over. 

Final: Tar Heels 41, Wolfpack 10

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