Gameday Live Blog/Open Thread: State at UNC

Brett Friedlander

NC State comes into today's rivalry matchup against North Carolina at Kenan Stadium as a 14 1/2-point underdog, which seems like an awful lot of points considering that both teams have nearly identical one-loss records and are both ranked in the national polls.

Some of the love the Tar Heels are getting from the folks in Vegas probably comes from the fact that the Wolfpack will play Bailey Hockman at quarterback in place of injured starter Devin Leary. UNC and Mack Brown also still carry a lot of hype despite last week's loss at Florida State.

There's at least one thing going in State's favor that the oddsmakers apparently haven't taken into account. It's that Wolfpack has won all three of its previous trips to Chapel Hill under coach Dave Doeren.

If there's a secret to his success, he's not giving it up.

"No, I don’t change anything," Doeren said earlier this week. "Every game is pretty much the same for me, but it has been great there. Obviously, I’d love to continue it, but we’re going to have to earn it."

As we wait for Doeren and his Wolfpack to try to earn another win at UNC, here's a look back at our coverage leading up to the game to keep you busy:

Wolfpack Kickoff: UNC

Kenton's Keys to Victory

Doeren: Wolfpack is Playing Like it Practices

All Systems 'Go' For Payton Wilson

Doeren, Teammates Have Confidence in Hockman

PREGAME

The Wolfpack will get starting left tackle Justin Witt back today at UNC, but the tradeoff is that starting right tackle Tyrone Riley won't be active because of what appeared to be a leg injury suffered last week against Duke. Other inactives include safety Tanner Ingle, special teams ace Devon Betty, wide receiver Jasiah Provillion, defensive back Jalen Frazier and running back Trent Pennix. ...

Not wanting to mess with a winning forumla, Doeren and his players are sticking with what has been a winning look so far this season. For the third straight road game, they'll be wearing their white jerseys with red pants and red helmets.

UNC wins the toss and elects to defer ...

FIRST QUARTER

State's first possession was a disappointment. After Hockman threw it away on first down and completed a pass to Thayer Thomas for an eight-yard gain, the Wolfpack went Wildcat with Ricky Person Jr. taking a direct snap. It appeared he had a hole that would have gotten him a first down, but he got greedy and tried to bounce outside instead and was tackled for a loss ...

UNC quarterback Sam Howell has completed his first five passes. If the Wolfpack gives him this much time to throw, it's going to be a looooooong day ....

And now Michael Carter Jr. breaks a tackle and gets just inside the pylon for a 16-yard Tar Heel touchdown. Obviously not the kind of star the Wolfpack wanted or needed ...

The touchdown is under review. Call upheld ...

UNC 7, State 0 with 8:59 left in the period

Person with a nice, tough run for 10 yards on first down, but it looks like he hurt his shoulder. He's being worked on by trainers on the sideline ...

Hockman can't connect with Devin Carter deep down the near sideline and it's another punt for Trenton Gill. And it lands inches inside the end zone. Instead of having to go 99 yards, the Tar Heels will get it at the 20 ... 

I know it's very early and the Wolfpack battled back from a deficit last week, but this is a huge series for State's defense. The way Hockman has started this one isn't promising, State can't afford to get too far behind. ...

Malik Dunlap celebrating after an incomplete pass from Howell to Dyami Brown. But in reality, Dunlap was lucky that Brown dropped the ball. Otherwise it would have been a huge gain ...

C.J. Hart with a strip sack of Howell, but Howell recovers his own fumble. Hart is in the game because Payton Wilson has been taken into the injury tent. No word on what his issue is or how serious it might be ...

Wilson is out of the tent, but still not back on the field ...

Tar Heels do the Wolfpack a favor by holding, wiping out a big run by Carter and making it first-and-20. ...

Wilson is back in the game ...

Howell is picking this secondary apart. State has to get pressure on him or it's going to get ugly ...

Drake Thomas shoots the gap and makes a nice play in the backfield. Third and long  ...

Three different Wolfpack players hit Howell in the backfield before he was finally dragged out of bounds by Terrell Dawkins. Why he didn't throw that ball away, not sure. But the big seven-yard loss takes UNC out of field goal range ...

And of course, Kiernan's punt checks up inside the 10 instead of rolling into the end zone like Gill's did. A long way to go for the Wolfpack, but on the bright side, the deficit is still only 7-0 ...

End of 1: Tar Heels 7, Wolfpack 0

SECOND QUARTER

Again with the direct snap to Person and again, no first down ...

Tight end Dylan Autenreith is down, holding his right leg. He missed all but the first three games last year because of a knee injury. He's an important part of the run game because of his blocking. He's also a co-captain and a strong leader. ...

State got pressure on Howell, but both Wilson and McNeill couldn't catch him and he scrambles for a first down on third-and five ...

Wolfpack isn't tackling well today ...

Howell runs 10 yards for a touchdown and this one is in danger of getting away from the Wolfpack in a hurry ...

UNC 14, State 0, 11:59 left in the half

Total yards so far: UNC 193, State 29. First downs: UNC 12, State 1. Offensive plays: UNC 30, State 10. Time of possession: UNC 13:27, State 3:43. 

The Ben Finley era at NC State has begun ...

Little swing pass to start with gets Bam Knight the ball in space for State's best gain of the day. And now another short pass complete  ...

Emeka Emezie helps the kid out with a great one-handed catch. He's been doing that a lot this season. This is the receiver Emezie was billed to be last year. It's also big for a lot of other reasons ...

Finley with a designed run gets a first down inside the UNC 10 ...

Finley is picked off in the end zone, but it's not his fault. Dylan Parham was wide open. Had the ball in his hands for a touchdown, but he not only dropped the ball, he popped it up in the end zone and it's intercepted by Don Chapman.

That is a HUGE mistake that will cost State dearly ...

But on the plus side, it appears as though the Wolfpack may have found a new quarterback ...

Tackling is still horrible ...

Payton Wilson hurting again. ... It goes from bad to worse.

Wilson back into the game again. He makes a tackle on Javonte Williams, but he looks like he's still in pain. ... 

Another goal line stand coming up?

Good pressure by Drake Thomas forces Howell to throw high in the end zone .. UNC will try a field goal ... AND HE SHTOINKED IT!

Big break for the Wolfpack, still down only 14-0

Now take advantage of it by driving for a touchdown ,,,

Two quick first downs on short passes, but Person is hurt as he hit the ground on the second one. And he's in a lot of pain. ...

This doesn't look good. ... 

They're bringing out the back board. This is happening too many times this season ...

Good news is that Person is sitting up on his own and now getting up ... He's walking off favoring his right leg .... Very encouraging ... Not sure what the issue is. He held his hand at first, but must have been something else too or they wouldn't have brought the backboard out. Thankfully it wasn't needed ...

Finley showing some cool in the pocket and sone creativity. 

How was there no interference. Riley got taken down on the second down play ... But Finley isn't bothered. He immediately hits Emezie for the first down. ...

How about Ben Finley?? 

He drives the Wolfpack the length of the field, 80 yards on nine plays, hitting Emezie with a bullet for a 42-yard touchdown that gets his team back into the game. The kid is mauled on the sideline by his teammates, especially Emezie, who are rallying around their new leader. ...

UNC 14, State 7 with 54 seconds left in the half

The Wolfpack left too much time for Howell and the Tar Heels, who roar down the field quickly, but run out of time and will have to attempt a 40-yard field goal by the same guy who missed from 22 earlier. ...

Atkins makes it as time expires ...

This is still doable, especially the way Finley has energized the offense. But for State to have a realistic chance at winning, the defense is going to have to be significantly better over the final 30 minutes ...

Halftime: UNC 17, State 7

State-unc football half box 2020

THIRD QUARTER

Here's what SI All Wolfpack Deputy Editor Kenton Gibbs had to say about the first half and what State needs to do to come from behind over the final two periods ...

https://www.si.com/college/ncstate/football/ncstate-wolfpack-football-unc-halftime-observations

First things first, Ricky Person won't be back in the second half. He suffered a concussion on the play on which he got hurt during the first half ...

Great start for the Wolfpack defense ... Daniel Joseph with a third down sack and State gets the ball back quickly ...

But after a couple of first downs, Finley's pass is tipped and intercepted again. This time it was a Tar Heel defender that knocked the ball up for grabs. Defense has to come up big again ...

Not this time. 

Not sure who didn't pick up Josh Downs. But Joshua Pierre-Louis let him go and he was absolutely wide open for a 17-yard touchdown. And Daniel Joseph comes limping off the field to make matters worse ...

UNC 24, State 7, 8:56 left in the quarter

Finley does a good job of avoiding a sack on third and three, but still has to throw it away .... and then he executes a perfect quick kick that is downed at the 1 ...

I haven't seen anyone use the quick kick in years. That would have been a lot more fun had the score not been 24-7 ...

Jakeen Harris should have had an INT on a tipped pass, but he can't hold on. It wasn't an easy catch, but it's one he should have made ...

And now a DPI called on Shyheim Battle -- a really weak call -- gives UNC a first down instead of forcing a fourth down ...

Say what you want about Sam Howell, and he's been okay, but State's inability to stop the run today is the reason it's getting spanked ...

Payton Wilson coming off the field again. He's been bothered by an injury since early in this one. He keeps going back out there, but he hasn't been the same. And yet, he still has eight tackles ...

Tar Heels are in the end zone again ... this one is getting ugly, folks ...

Tar Heels 31, Wolfpack 7, 3:11 left in the period

At this point, it's more about getting Finley and the offense some rhythm and confidence, because this one has been decided ....

So much for that.

Finley is sacked and stripped by Surratt, UNC recovers ...

Another costly mistake by the Wolfpack defense. Jakeen Harris called for holding on a play that would have led to a field goal attempt. Instead it's a first down and Williams runs over Devon Boykin into the end zone for yet another Tar Heels touchdown. ...

UNC 38, State 7, 1:27 left in the period

Hockman back in to mop up ...

Thayer Thomas with a great catch in traffic. ... Hockman hits Rooks to the one and then scores on a keeper.

Tar Heels 38, Wolfpack 14, 35 seconds left in the period

Joe Sculthorpe gets called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the point after. Second straight game he's been flagged for that. He said earlier this week that he regretted losing his cool last week against Duke. Wonder what he's thinking now ...

Onside kick is unsuccessful. UNC starts near midfield.

End of 3: UNC 38, State 14

UNC has 251 yards through the air and 252 yards on the ground ...

And even more now that Javonte Williams goes 27 yards for his third touchdown of the half ...

UNC 45, State 14,  still 14:11 for it to get uglier 

Okay, you're Dave Doeren. Now what do you do at quarterback? Finley provided a spark, but is clearly in over his head once UNC adjusted to him. Hockman is what he is. The only other option is redshirt freshman Ty Evans, who has yet to take a college snap.

As if things couldn't get any worse. Ickey Ekwonu comes limping off the field ...

Hockman holds the ball too long and gets sacked on fourth down. And UNC gets another short field ...

Mack calls of the dogs by putting his true freshman quarterback into the game ...

Now might now be a bad time to get a look at Ty Evans for the final series or two ...

Tar Heels' bench warmers are still gashing big plays on the ground ...

UNC tacks on another field goal and it's now ...

Tar Heels 48, Wolfpack 14, 7:40 left

Freshman Anthony Smith with his first career catch ... And then he makes a great catch in the end zone for his first career touchdown. 

Smith is the kid who dropped a sure TD pass in the Pitt game. Great to see him get another shot and make the grab this time. That's going to help his confidence and make an already deep receiving corps even deeper moving forward ...

UNC 45, State 21, 6:23 left

I still think it would be a good idea to get Evans a series here. But Hockman will finish it out ...

Another true freshman making a nice contested catch ... This time it's Christopher Scott. Followed by the first career catch by walkon tight end Andrew Jayne ...

And the exclamation point on a really bad day in Chapel Hill is a Hockman interception.

State and UNC have now met as ranked teams three times. The Tar Heels have lost all three ...

Final: Tar Heels 45, Wolfpack 21

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