Gameday Live Blog/Open Thread: State vs. Wake Forest

Brett Friedlander

Considering everything the NC State football team has been through during preseason camp, simply making it onto the field for tonight’s opener against Wake Forest is something of a victory.

Now comes the hard part, going out and actually winning the game.

It’s a fast start the Wolfpack and Coach Dave Doeren need after finishing last year with six straight losses.

There are plenty of reasons why State should be improved, if not vastly improved, from that 2019 squad -- the least of which is all the players returning from injury, including key contributors such as offensive linemen Justin Witt and Tyrone Riley, wide receiver C.J. Riley and virtually every cornerback on the roster.

But there are still plenty of questions.

What will Tim Beck’s new offense look like? How much will quarterback Devin Leary improve? Can the Wolfpack finally figure out a way to solve a Wake Forest team that won the last three meetings in the ACC’s longest continuous football rivalry?

And can State finally figure out a way to beat the Deacons after losing three straight in the ACC's longest continuous football rivalry?

The Wolfpack might be a slight favorite according to the oddsmakers, but this one could go either way. So stay tuned. And don’t forget to post your thoughts on the game in our comment section as the night unfolds.

While you wait for kickoff, here's a look back at our coverage leading up to tonights game ...

Memorable NC State Football Season Openers 

Three Individual Battles to Watch Against Wake Forest

KENTON'S KEYS: Wake Forest

Ekwonu Comfortable With Move to Guard

Veteran Line, Stable of Backs Have Wolfpack on the Run in 2020

Wolfpack Will Have to Provide its own Energy in Empty Stadium

PREGAME

Breaking news here at Carter-Finley ... Bailey Hockman is starting at quarterback for the Wolfpack tonight instead of Devin Leary. 

Not sure if there's an injury or if Doeren spent the summer hyping up the redshirt sophomore as a smokescreen for his first opponent. But the switch is definitely NOT coronavirus related. Leary is out on the field throwing during pregame warmups. Details to come as they're made available ...

Here's video of the quarterbacks' pregame warmups ...

The Wolfpack's inactive list is a relatively short one. It includes Chris Ingram, who we know was going to be out, along with wide receiver C.J. Riley, which is a surprise considering he was expected to be back after missing all last season with a knee injury.

The other inactives are defensive tackle Val Martin, redshirt freshman nickel Jalen Frazier, junior defensive tackle Dante Johnson and freshmen receivers Anthony Smith, Joshua Crabtree and Christopher Scott. ...

FIRST QUARTER

State receives the opening kickoff and downs it for a touchback. Hockman will start first and 10 from the 25. And the season is offically underway ...

It doesn't start well for Hockman, whose attempt at a swing pass is behind Ricky Person Jr., who has to fall on it to prevent Wake from recovering what was ruled a lateral. But Person quickly made up for the misfire by going 33 yards around left end on the next play.

A 17-yard pass to Thayer Thomas picked up another first down and the another of State's stable of talented backs, Zonovan Knight, follows the same line as Person two plays earlier to go 30 yards to the house.

And just like that, State leads 7-0 after Dunn's PAT (75 yards, five plays, 1:56) ...

And now after a 15-yard gain on the first play of Wake's drive, the Wolfpack defense gets a quick stop. Who is this team in red and white?

State's second drive starts with two runs that went nowhere. But Hockman completes a safe pass to Person in the backfield, who turns it into a first down. ...

A big gain to tight end Dylan Parham over the middle sets up another Wolfpack TD, this time Hockman taking it in himself. 

And it's 14-0 State less than eight minutes into the new season ...

Wake answers back with a methodical drive that ends with an absolutely perfectly thrown ball from Sam Hartman Jacquarii Roberson in the corner of the end zone. That one wasn't on the defense. It was a great throw and catch, with Roberson getting one foot down just before he ran out of room. ...

Hockman showing some good mobility, scrambling for a first down on third and 14 ...

State 14, Wake 7, 3:17 left in the first quarter

End of First quarter: State 14, Wake 7

SECOND QUARTER

Just as Clemson did last week, State is making effective use of its tight ends. Parham had a big catch on the Wolfpack's second touchdown drive and now Cary Angeline addes another to set up yet another score -- this one a one-yard run by person off a direct snap ...

Person celebrates a little too hard and gets an unsportsman like conduct penalty that will be assessed on the kickoff.

Still, after Dunn's extra point, it's now Wolfpack 21, Deacons 7

Get your calculators ready. This one is going to be a high scoring one. Christian Beal-Smith gets a nice block on the edge and goes in from 11 yards out after Wake converts on a fourth down play.

And with 10:38 still left in the half, it's now State 21, Wake 14 

For those of you wondering, the over/under is only 53 ...

Porter Rooks gets his first career catch, even though it was for minus-one yard ...

Fourth drive of the night for the Wolfpack. First punt of the season for Trenton Gill. That's a ratio Doeren and Tim Beck can live with ...

After a strong start, State's defense is starting to show some troublesome signs. Wake has now driven 75 or more yards for a touchdown on each of its last three possessions and it's not tied at 21 with :36 seconds left ...

Wolfpack runs the ball, apparently content to just get into halftime with the tie ... but Ryan Houston gets 21 to put the ball near midfield and now Doeren takes time out with 27 seconds left ... But after two throw aways under pressure and a sack, we had to halftime exactly where we started. It's now a 30 minute game ...

Wolfpack 21, Deacons 21

State-wake fb 2020 half box

SECOND HALF

The third quarter has started out ominously for the Wolfpack. On the first play, Payton Wilson was called for a personal foul for body slamming a Deacon ballcarrier to the ground after stopping him for no gain. And now, cornerback Teshaun Smith -- who missed the final six games last season -- is down after breaking up a pass to Wake's Donovan Greene. Greene is also still down on the far sideline ...

Now Malik Dunlap gets away with a little PI and State gets a stop it really needed ... And then it gets great field position after a strong rush forces Wake punter Ivan Mora into just a five-yard punt. ...

Just as he did the first time he touched the ball in the first half, Person goes for 30 more yards around left end. ... 

And now Person goes for 21 ... guard Joe Sculthorpe had his hands in the air signaling touchdown as Person made his cut to the outside to daylight, but he was knocked out of bounds at the 2 ...

Hello Jump pass!!!

Person with the pass out of the direct snap complete to Devin Carter for the go-ahead touchdown. Carter's first career TD catch. Person's first career TD pass and the Wolfpack is back on top ...

State 28, Wake 21 with 11:42 left in the third quarter

The Wolfpack gets its first sack of the season ... Savion Jackson get it and the defense gets another stop ... It's the first three-and-out for either team tonight ...

Another bad punt sets the Wolfpack up near midfield again ...

Hockman takes a big hit up high on a scramble, but he looks okay ...

Now it's Knight for 20. As SI All Wolfpack's Kenton Gibbs has said all week, the Wolfpack needs to take advantage of the veteran line and all the talented backs it has by running the ball early and often. And new OC Tim Beck is listening ...

A strong running game opens up the pass and there's another touchdown, this one to Angeline from 15 yards out. 

Wolfpack 35, Wake 21 with 8:56 left in the third

Penn State grad transfer Daniel Joseph gets his first Wolfpack sack. And now there's one by Payton Wilson. That's three already in this quarter. Clearly DC Tony Gibson has made some adjustments and they're working. Wake will punt for the third straight second half possession ...

Doeren said field position would be key, just as it was last year. But instead of being pinned back on almost every possession, State is starting in the middle of the field or better each time tonight ... 

Just when it seemed as though State might have a QB controversy brewing once Leary is ready to return, Hockman makes Doeren's decision moving forward a little easier by throwing a pick six to Ja'Sir Taylor and Wake is back to within 35-28. ...

Apparently Beck's confidence in Hockman has been adversely affected by the pick six. Three straight runs, including one on third-and-long, gives the ball (along with the momentum) right back to the Deacs ...

Wake didn't run the ball well against Clemson last week. But apparently that had more to do with the Tigers defense than the Deacs' backs. Between them, Walker and Beal-Smith have combined for 122 yards thus far. ...

And now Beal-Smith is hurt ...

Terrell Dawkins is down ... 

Walker with a beautiful cutback, walks into the end zone from 13 yards out. State had a chance to take control, up two touchdowns with the ball in good field position. But the pick six changed everything and it's tied again ...

Wolfpack 35, Deacons 35 with 1:24 left in the third.

Second straight three-and-out, with two incomplete passes and a shovel pass that didn't work. Momentum is squarely in the Deacs' corner now ...

Payton Wilson just saved a touchdown after Wake's Taylor Morin broke several tackles on a punt return and had a lot of open space in front of him. Wilson looks like he's cramping ...

State comes away with the ball and it's ruled a fumble. Huge turnover if it stands on review ... Alim McNeill forces it and recovers it .... The call stands and State takes over in Wake territory.

Knight with a big run on the final play of the period and we had to the fourt quarter with the Wolfpack knocking on the door ...

End of 3 .. State 35, Wake 35

FOURTH QUARTER

State has been running the ball well all night, but clearly Beck doesn't have the same kind of confidence in Hockman that he did before the interception ... It showed on that third-and-six call from the Wake 14 and the Wolfpack has to settle for a 30-yard Christopher Dunn field goal. 

State back on top 38-35 with 13:19 left

Terrell Dawkins is back on the field, but Wake is driving down it quickly ...

Second pass interefence call on State this drive (one on Cecil Powell, the other on Jakeen Harris) puts the ball at the 2 ... where Walker walks in for the touchdown, giving Wake its first lead of the night. Walker now has three rushing TDs tonight ...

State has some work to do now ... down 42-38 with 9:12 left 

First Person, then Knight, now Jordan Houston with a big chunk run ...21 yards. State has 267 rushing yards on 38 carries tonight. Because that yardage is spread out among three backs and Hockman, no one has 100 yet. ...

Nicely timed screen pass to Knight takes it to the Wake 12 ... Beck clearly doesn't have the same kind of confidence in Hockman than he did before the pick six, but smart move on his part to get the backs involved in the passing game. That screen was a great call. And Bam did the rest ... 

Wolfpack has to have a TD on this drive ...

And it gets one. Person takes it in from the three and State is back on top 45-42 with 5:51 left ...

Person now has 99 yards on 14 carries. Knight has 97 on 11 tries ...

Wake is 2 for 2 on fourth down tonight and it's going for it again here on fourth-and0-six from the minus-40. Wolfpack burns its second timeout of the half to make sure its in the defense Gibson wants ...

Potential ball game play here ...

Jakeen Harris makes up for the PI in the end zone with the huge pass breakup and the Wolfpack takes over on downs. 4:18 left ... 

As well as Person and Knight have been running, why Houston there?

And now a QB draw that was horribly executed. ... And now State will punt with plenty of time left ...

State didn't manage that possession well at all ...  Wake will have to go 89 yards in 2:25 ... very doable.

Vi Jones with his first big play as a Wolfpacker ... strip sack on Hartman, but the ball goes out of bounds. Daniely Joseph follows that up with his second sack of the night ... Two transfers paying immediate dividends ...

Another transfer, JUCO Rakeim Ashford nearly gets an INT, but he's better off dropping it. State takes over at the Wake 23 ... 

That's it ... the six-game losing streak that ended 2019 is now a thing of the past.

Wolfpack starts off the new season with a 45-42 win that feels good for a lot of different reasons ... Check back to SI All Wolfpack later for all the details and comments from coach Dave Doeren and his players ...

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