BOSTON — It wasn’t very pretty, but NC State was happy to escape with a 17-14 win over Boston College that snapped its two-game losing streak.
“It’s always good to get a winning taste back,” coach Dave Doeren said after Nyheim Hines’ 50-yard touchdown run with 8:22 left was the difference in a sloppy game played in Northeast cold on Saturday.
“Our goal at the end of last week was to try to get to seven wins in the ACC, which has never been done.”
Hines, playing on a sore ankle, looked great, running for 110 yards.
“I found out we have one of the best training staff in the country,” he said.
“We knew this was going to be a challenge as well,” Hines added about Boston College. “Boston always historically has a great defense. They didn’t disappoint. They had a great defense.”
But that BC defense allowed State to go nine of 17 on third-down conversions — and also allowed the Wolfpack to survive despite making enough mistakes to lose.
The NC State kicking game, a problem all season, produced one Kyle Bambard field goal in four attempts. Ryan Finley, passing against a defense that came in second in the nation against the pass, threw an interception and was just 13 of 32 through the air. He also misfired on a lateral that turned the ball over. Passes were dropped, others broken up.
The Wolfpack (7-3, 5-1 ACC) also allowed a 196-yard day, including a 66-yard touchdown run by Boston College freshman AJ Dillon.
But after allowing 73 points in losses to Notre Dame and Clemson, the defense was stout when it had to be — and it got a break when BC, which had a three-game winning streak snapped, lost quarterback Anthony Brown after his right knee buckled in the second quarter.
Hines’ winning score came two plays after the Wolfpack moved to midfield on a 25-yard run by Jaylen Samuels. Hines broke the winner down the right sideline.
“I had patience,” he said of the run.
The Eagles (5-5, 3-4) had a chance to tie their Senior Day game late. But a bad snap on what would have been a 40-yard field-goal attempt killed the chance with 4:15 remaining. Their offense never really got over the loss of Brown, who ran for seven yards down to the State 13 when his right knee buckled.
“Right now all we care about is him,” coach Steve Addazio said of Brown, who was on crutches and will be tested further Sunday. “Praying and hoping the best possible outcome can happen. … It didn’t look good.”
Even though Brown got the ball down to the 13, the Eagles couldn’t score, with a strange call on fourth-and-1, as the next play had running back Jon Hilliman roll out and throw a pass to nowhere.
“That’s directly on me,” said Addazio, who said he thought he had a good play called.
Samuels scored his 44th career touchdown on an 8-yard run. Wide receiver Thadd Smith rushed for 12 yards and BC’s other score.
Senior Darius Wade replaced Brown and was 8 of 15 for 82 yards and he also lost a fumble, triggering a bizarre end to the first half that saw him turn the ball over, and Finley give it right back with a pick — only to have N.C. State block a punt and recover with eight seconds left. That set up Bambard’s only success of the day — a 41-yarder.
Bradley Chubb had 2 1/2 sacks, allowing him to pass Mario Williams and become N.C. State’s career sacks leader with 26. He is also a half tackle off Williams’ school mark of 55.5 tackles for loss.
“We just gave him the game ball,” Doeren said. “That’s pretty special when you talk about the D-linemen NC State’s had and Mario Williams, the first overall pick. For him to now be better statistically, to be called the all-time greatest defensive lineman at NC State, is a big thing.
“That’s why he came back.”
NOTES: Boston College star DE Harold Landry missed his second straight game with an ankle sprain. … NC State G Terrone Prescod left in the first half, appearing groggy, while WR Stephen Louis also left with an injury, and Eagles CB Kamrin Moore aggravated a shoulder injury and also left. … The Eagles came in with the second-toughest schedule in the nation, in terms of the combined records of previous opponents — 43-22, behind only Penn State’s 45-22. … NC State visits Wake Forest and Boston College plays a “road” game against Connecticut at Fenway Park. … BC had scored 121 points in its winning streak.