NC State becomes bowl eligible with blowout of FSU

Pass defense’s struggles countered by strong Wolfpack rushing attack

North Carolina State's Ricky Person Jr. (20) celebrates after he scored a touchdown against Florida State's Leonard Warner III (35) during the second half of an NCAA college football game in Raleigh, N.C., Saturday, Nov. 3, 2018. (AP Photo/Chris Seward)

RALEIGH — NC State snapped a two-game losing streak in a big way, pounding Florida State 47-28 at Carter-Finley Stadium.

The win gave State six wins, making the Wolfpack bowl eligible for the fifth straight year.

“There are some things that we’d obviously like to get better at, and we will,” coach Dave Doeren said, “but to be undefeated at home and to win on Homecoming, to get off that losing streak and play the way we did, I thought, a very clean football game. I’m very proud of our guys and our coaches.

“I thought we had a good game plan. It’s not easy going on the road and getting home at one in the morning one week and 3:30 in the morning the next week. With all the injuries we’ve had, it’s been challenging. It’s great to get back in the win column and (become) bowl eligible.”

The way they won was also encouraging to the Pack. After struggling to run the ball consistently all year, NC State produced 177 yards on the ground.

“(It) helped us keep them off the field,” Doeren said. “I thought we were physical at the line of scrimmage. You saw a lot of surge in the line. They have a really good middle linebacker. I was impressed. I thought Reggie Gallaspy played a really good football game The offensive line and tight ends created some seams.”

Gallaspy had 106 yards, and Ricky Person scored two rushing touchdowns and added a third on a two-yard pass from Ryan Finley.

“When the run game is going, it makes everything more fun, to be honest, as an offensive lineman,” center Garrett Bradbury said. “When you can just drive down the field running the ball, and they know it’s coming most of the time, it’s just a good feeling. Obviously, it helps the passing game out a ton. The secondary isn’t just sitting and waiting for the pass. It’s just good when you can be that balanced as an offense.”

Finley added 240 passing yards to the offensive attack, completing 21 of 27 passes and throwing three touchdowns. He wasn’t sacked all day, after his line struggled to protect him in back-to-back losses at Clemson and Syracuse.

“We all took it a little personally last week,” Bradbury said. “We thought we got Ryan Finley hit a little bit too much last week.”

The Wolfpack defense, meanwhile, sacked Florida State’s James Blackman five times and pressured him much of the day. Despite that, the Seminoles quarterback, who replaced starter Deandre Francois last week, passed for 421 yards and four scores, highlighting the soft spot in the Wolfpack D — the secondary.

“I thought we gave up too many big plays on the corner,” Doeren said. “(FSU) made some plays on us. Does it need to get better? Absolutely. We’ll continue to work to get better. We’re plus-two in turnover margin and you can’t run the football against us. If we limit the big plays, we’re going to score enough points to win a lot of football games. A team that comes out and throws the ball that many times, they are going to get some yards.”

Still, despite the FSU passing, the day was an overall success for the Pack, who moved to 6-2 on the year and 3-2 in the conference.

“We put up a bunch of points,” Doeren said. “It was a good feeling the whole game. I thought we were in rhythm and controlled the game the whole game.”