12:00 PM ET, November 22, 2008
Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- Jamelle Eugene jogged in for a rout-punctuating touchdown to the delight of thousands of red-clad North Carolina State fans crowded into a few sections of Kenan Stadium. Most of North Carolina's crowd had long since departed their home stadium to skip the humbling final minutes.
It was as satisfying a scene as the Wolfpack could have hoped for against their biggest rival.
• NC State eliminated its intrastate rival from the ACC Coastal race and held the Tar Heels to 55 rushing yards and 202 total yards.
• It was the Wolfpack's largest margin of victory in this rivalry since a 40-6 win in 1989. NC State finished 4-0 against teams from the state of North Carolina this season, and 0-6 vs. all other FBS teams.
• Russell Wilson was 17-for-28 for 279 yards and two TDs for NC State.
• NC State can become bowl-eligible with a win at home against Miami next Saturday.
-- ESPN research
Eugene ran for two touchdowns and Andre Brown ran for another for N.C. State (5-6, 3-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), which kept its bowl hopes alive with a surprising domination of a team that entered Saturday with slim hopes of winning the league's muddled Coastal Division race.
Instead, the only title anyone was talking about afterward was the mythical "state championship" the Wolfpack had focused on entering the game. N.C. State has beaten North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and East Carolina in the same season for the first time since 1986.
"What it speaks to is we're the best football program in the state," Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien said, "without question."
Certainly not on this day, anyway.
N.C. State scored 21 points in the third quarter to blow it open, earning its biggest win in the series since beating a 40-6 victory in 1989. N.C. State finished with a season-high 466 total yards while holding North Carolina to a season-low 203, handing the Tar Heels (7-4, 3-4) their most lopsided loss under second-year coach Butch Davis.
"A lot of guys look at us like, 'They're not that good,' " Wolfpack cornerback DeAndre Morgan said. "So every time we play someone, especially in state, they feel like it's just a run-over game. ... We just had to step up to the plate and respond to the challenge."
Wilson finished with a career-high 279 yards passing to go with 50 yards rushing. The redshirt freshman also extended his interception-free streak to a school-record 203 passes, part of a turnover-free day against a defense that has been one of the nation's best at forcing mistakes.
Instead, it was North Carolina giving it away.
North Carolina committed six turnovers -- two on fumbles by starting tailback Shaun Draughn in the opening 5 minutes -- and got no spark from the return of quarterback T.J. Yates to the starting lineup. The Tar Heels played so badly hey heard scattered boos late in the third quarter from the same fans who ultimately headed for the exits early.
North Carolina's previous three losses were by a combined eight points.
"Our players and coaches are smart enough to know that if you play that poorly, you're going to get beat," said Davis, now 0-2 against the Wolfpack. "And if you turn the ball over six times, you're going to got get beat badly."
Yates started all 12 games last year and the first three this season before breaking his left ankle against Virginia Tech in September. One-time third-stringer Cameron Sexton had won four of six starts since, but Davis opened competition this week after Sexton's shaky performance in last weekend's loss at Maryland.
Yates completed 10 of 22 passes for 116 yards and an interception before Davis opted for Sexton midway through the fourth quarter. By then, the Tar Heels trailed 34-10 -- though it might not have mattered who started at quarterback.
"It just baffles me how bad we played, as a team, as a whole," Yates said. "They came in today on a mission, came to take us out as soon as possible."
The Wolfpack managed to convert only one of Draughn's early fumbles into a field goal and led 10-3 at halftime on Wilson's 17-yard TD pass to George Bryan. Then, leading 17-10, N.C. State put the game out of reach.
With his mobility buying time against North Carolina's pass rush, Wilson completed passes to convert on third and fourth down before running 26 yards to set up Brown's 2-yard scoring run that made it 24-10.
"I'll sit back there all day if I have to and sling the rock around and let guys make plays," Wilson said. "When I have to, I know I can make a play."
Then, a play after Richard Quinn fumbled away the ensuing kickoff, Wilson connected with Owen Spencer for a 21-yard touchdown over the middle to push the lead to 31-10 with 1:14 left in the third quarter.
Sexton wasn't much better than Yates, throwing two interceptions. N.C. State returned the second near the goal line, setting up Eugene's celebratory TD run.
Ryan Houston scored North Carolina's only touchdown on a 5-yard run.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... The Wolfpack posted 21 points in the third quarter to run away from the Tar Heels.
Gameball goes to... Russell Wilson. The NC State quarterback torched UNC for 279 yards and two TDs.
Stat of the game... 6, 0. The Wolfpack forced the Tar Heels into six turnovers while committing none.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||8-17||3-11|
|4th Down Conversions||1-3||1-2|
|FG||08:12||Josh Czajkowski 39 Yd||3||0|
|TD||14:20||George Bryan 17 Yd Pass From Russell Wilson (Josh Czajkowski Kick)||10||0|
|FG||08:48||Casey Barth 37 Yd||10||3|
|TD||09:53||Jamelle Eugene 1 Yd Run (Josh Czajkowski Kick)||17||3|
|TD||06:44||Ryan Houston 5 Yd Run (Casey Barth Kick)||17||10|
|TD||01:28||Andre Brown 2 Yd Run (Josh Czajkowski Kick)||24||10|
|TD||01:14||Owen Spencer 21 Yd Pass From Russell Wilson (Josh Czajkowski Kick)||31||10|
|FG||08:39||Josh Czajkowski 32 Yd||34||10|
|TD||02:05||Jamelle Eugene 1 Yd Run (Josh Czajkowski Kick)||41||10|