RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- After one quarterback change and two wins
against ranked opponents, North Carolina State suddenly looks like
an entirely different team.
Daniel Evans threw three touchdown passes -- including the
go-ahead score in the fourth quarter -- to lead the Wolfpack to a
24-20 victory over No. 17 Florida State Thursday night, the second
straight Atlantic Coast Conference win for a team that appeared to
be going nowhere just a few weeks ago.
Evans connected with John Dunlap on a 12-yard score with 10:36
left for the Wolfpack (3-2, 2-0 ACC), which rallied from a 10-point
third-quarter deficit behind another poised performance from a
redshirt sophomore quarterback in his second career start.
It would have been hard to imagine the Wolfpack could manage
this type of win only a few weeks ago. N.C. State was 1-2 after a
last-play home loss to Akron and a humbling 37-17 loss at Southern
Mississippi, which prompted coach Chuck Amato to elevate Evans past
Now, with wins against Boston College and Florida State, the
once-dark mood around Carter-Finley Stadium has been replaced by
jubilant rowdy crowds and players spilling out onto the field to
celebrate as the clock expires.
"We're right where we want to be," Evans said. "We're
excited. We're not going to get complacent on where we are."
Andre Brown added 113 yards rushing, marking the second straight
year Brown cracked the 100-yard mark against the Seminoles (3-2,
Brown ran for 179 yards last year in a 20-15 road win, marking
the Wolfpack's third win in six tries against the Seminoles under
Amato -- an 18-year assistant at Florida State to Bobby Bowden
before taking over here in 2000. In fact, the Wolfpack came in as
the only ACC team with four wins against Florida State since the
Seminoles joined the league 14 years ago.
Now N.C. State has another big win to celebrate against Amato's
"It's not really surprising to us," said safety DaJuan Morgan,
who intercepted a pass from Drew Weatherford in the final minutes
to seal the win. "We came into those games (against Akron and
Southern Miss) and we didn't have the right mind-set that we have
right now. We just believe that we can be No. 1, ACC champs."
Evans completed 13 of 22 passes for 190 yards. And his scoring
pass to Dunlap was eerily similar to the TD toss he threw to Dunlap
with 8.5 seconds left in a 17-15 win against then-No. 20 Boston
College two weeks ago.
With the Wolfpack facing a second down, Evans lobbed a perfectly
thrown pass toward the back right corner of the end zone. Dunlap
jumped over defender Patrick Robinson and came down with the
football and a 24-20 lead.
"We're going to call it 'Dunlap's Corner," Amato said.
The lead ultimately held up, but not by much. The Seminoles put
together one last drive that started at their own 5 with 5:39 left,
but the drive stalled at N.C. State's 39 when Morgan intercepted
Weatherford's pass with about 2½ minutes left. The Seminoles had
burned their last timeout early in the fourth, allowing Evans and
the Wolfpack to kill the clock to end it.
Now the Seminoles find themselves slipping further down the
ACC's Atlantic Division standings, creating a difficult road for
them to return to the league championship game.
"We've got to win out," said Brandon Warren, who had a 12-yard
touchdown catch for a 20-10 lead late in the third quarter. "We've
just got to get it together and get our team chemistry back
together, and get moving."
The Seminoles seemed to have control of momentum midway through
the third quarter after a goal-line stand that included stopping
Toney Baker inside the 1 when he leapt for the end zone on fourth
down. The Seminoles then put together a 99-yard drive, ending when
Weatherford connected with Warren with 3:02 left in the third
But the Wolfpack closed to 20-17 when Evans found Geron James
for a 10-yard touchdown with 16 seconds left in the third. Then,
after the Seminoles went three-and-out, Evans directed the 58-yard
drive that ended with his TD toss to Dunlap.
"You never think you've got 'em, and yet, you think you might
have them," Bowden said. "But boy, you have to hand it to them.
They just took the ball and drove it right on down for a score,
then drove it for another score."
Weatherford threw for 249 yards and two touchdowns for the
One of the biggest cheers of the night was reserved for several
members of the Stanley Cup champion Carolina Hurricanes, who
appeared on the field with the storied 114-year-old trophy after
the first quarter. The Hurricanes share the RBC Center, located
across the street from Carter-Finley Stadium, with the N.C. State
men's basketball team.