LIVE BLOG: N.C. State 27, Duke 17 (FINAL)

POSTGAME: You never would know from the postgame interviews that you were looking at a team who just blew its best chance to become bowl eligible (because let's face it: Winning two of the next three games against Clemson, Viriginia Tech or UNC doesn't really seem possible).  Adrian Aye-Darko, Thaddeus Lewis, Michael Tauiliili and David Cutcliffe all emphasized that there is nothing wrong with this team's psyche and everyone is excited to get to work on next week's opponent tomorrow night. Cutcliffe said that Duke's "head was in the right place" and that it is "very excited about the opportunity in front of them."

Aye-Darko said that despite the two teams' records, they were both good squads. And he is right-N.C. State certainly did not play like a team that had not won an ACC game before this one. Cutcliffe echoed this statement and said straight out that he still thought his team is a good football team and certainly better than their 1-4 conference record indicates.

The only unit that faced sharp criticism was the kickoff coverage unit. Cutcliffe said it had been a strength going into this week, but was not pleased with today's effort. As for the reverse on the kickoff that Andre Brown returned 89 yards for the score, Cutcliffe said that he was not surprised or caught off guard.  State has been running similar plays all season, which the Blue Devils saw when they reviewed film, so they were not unprepared for it. Unfortunately for Duke, though, you could not tell that when you watched the play unfold live.

You can tell this is not a down-and-out team. Duke really believes in itself and is not going to let this setback dictate the rest of their season. Whether this confidence will turn into wins, though, remains to be seen.

FINAL: N.C. State 27-17: The Blue Devils failed to recover the onside kick, and N.C. State took a knee. This game essentially ended once the Wolfpack got a three-possession game, as they could run out time and hold the Blue Devils when they had to on defense. We're heading down to the locker rooms now and we'll have some quotes from Cutcliffe and the players later.

N.C. State 27-17, 1:26 remaining, fourth quarter: Cutcliffe will not be able to say his squad gave up this week. Even though they are down by an insurmountable margin, Lewis and the offense continued to move the ball down the field in a methodical fashion and put together a nine play, 52 yard scoring drive. There was a brief scare when Lewis fumbled on a QB keeper near the goal line, but a Blue Devil pounced on it, and the next play was a four yard touchdown pass to Hollingsworth. An onside kick is coming up.

N.C. State 27-10, 9:20 remaining, fourth quarter: Duke was its own worst enemy on this drive. A holding penalty on second and five backed them up to second and 15. Lewis was pressured on his next two throws and the Blue Devils were forced to punt. The fans are streaming out of the stands and probably already thinking about the impending start of basketball season.

N.C. State 27-10, 10:51 remaining, fourth quarter:N.C. State has not gone into clock-killing mode just yet. On second and nine, Wison completed a 12 yard pass to Jamelle Eugine. His next pass attempt on third and nine fell incomplete. Pierson's punt landed around the five yard line, but the Wolfpack's kicking coverage could not corale the ball before it bounced into the endzone. Duke ball at the 20 yard line.

N.C. State 27-10, 13:45 remaining, fourth quarter: After a lengthy review, Duke lost a couple of yards off it its third down completion and was staring at fourth and six. Lewis, under pressure as he has been for much of the contest, underthrew Harris to once again turn the ball over on downs. So far today, the Blue Devils have struck out on fourth down conversions, but they will probably continue going for it since time is winding down.

N.C. State 27-10, end of third quarter: In a surprise move, Cutcliffe is still trying to establish the running game. After a good return by Marshall to the 49, Jackson came out on first down and lost 4 yards. With only 14 minutes left, running the clock is probably not in Duke's best interest.

N.C. State 27-10, 0:19 remaining, 3rd quarter:Duke just can't catch a break. Owen Spencer managed to pull down a pass from Wilson in the middle of two Duke defenders for a 21 yard gain on the Wolfpack's first play of the drive. On the next play, Duke brought ample pressure, but, just like it has been all day, Wilson scrambles away and completes a 17 yard pass to Darrell Davis. The defense did string together three decent stops, but Josh Czajkowski nailed his 32 yard field goal attempt to make the game a three-possession contest. Even if the Blue Devils do start finding the end zone, it will be difficult score enough times given the amount of time left.

N.C. State 24-10, 2:59 remaining, 3rd quarter: Not much going for Lewis and Co. on this drive. After an initial 12 yard completion to Riley, the next three plays failed to produced a first down. Jone's punt was on the shorter side, and the State offense is set to begin work at their 36 yard line. Hopefully the defense can keep up its level of play and force the third punt of this half.

N.C. State 24-10, 5:15 remaining, 3rd quarter: Things just went from gut-wrenching to a near complete swing in momentum to a sucker punch from N.C. State. Wilson's very first pass of the drive was tipped in the air by Marcus Jones and three Blue Devils players had a chance to pick it off for a touchdown--but as the game has gone so far, could not have the ball bounce in their favor. The next play, Wolfpack tailback Andre Brown broke off a 52-yard run, killing any chance of Duke getting good field position. The defense responded though, and three incomplete passes later and the Blue Devils have the ball at their nine.

N.C. State 24-10, 5:32 remaining, 3rd quarter: Duke had four shots from the five-yard line to score a touchdown--and on four attempts, it came up short. Three straight Clifford Harris rushes came up one yard short, and on fourth-and-goal from the 1, Lewis' pass to a wide-open Huffman was just underthrown. The entire crowd groaned and Huffman slammed his fists on the ground in frustration.

N.C. State 24-10, 8:50 remaining, 3rd quarter: Duke's drive remains alive. Facing 3rd-and-7 from the Wolfpack 42-yard line, Lewis hits a slanting Donovan Varner for a first down. Varner had no one on him as N.C. State blitzed eight in an attempt to sack Lewis.

N.C. State 24-10, 12:10 remaining, 3rd quarter: Just what the Blue Devils needed--but not without a moment of "what the... what just happened?" Wilson threw deep down the right sideline and wideout Jarvis Williams, despite being blanketed on the play by Jabari Marshall, wanted the ball more and came up with it at Duke's 45-yard line. The defense held, however, and now the Blue Devils will get a chance to fight their way back in.

HALFTIME, N.C. State 24-10: During the week, head coach David Cutcliffe mentioned that he thought N.C. State was a better opponent than Wake Forest (which Duke lost to in heartbreaking fashion) and Miami (which was not nearly as heartbreaking--just flat out embarrassing.) Given the Wolfpack's 0-4 ACC record, it was fair to assume that perhaps Cutcliffe was doing everything possible to avoid winding up on the N.C. State bulletin board. But after an abysmal first half, it's entirely possible that the Wolfpack have manhadled the Blue Devils worse than any other team this year in the opening session. Here are a few reasons why:

-The line of scrimmage: N.C. State has, quite frankly, owned the trenches. Not including Lewis' scrambles, Duke has a mere 20 yards on 12 attempts. The defensive front has not done anything to stop the Wolfpack's running game, and when it does get pressure on quarterback Russell Wilson, it doesn't really matter since Wilson has the ability to scramble and create on the fly.

-The big play: Two big plays have really stood out above anything else: J.C. Neal's kickoff return for a touchdown off a handoff from return man T.J. Graham and, depending on which color sweater you wear, the incredible catch by tight end Anthony Hill or the lack of awareness by safety Adrian Aye-Darko to turn around and prevent a 25-yard catch that converted a 3rd-and-7 and set up N.C. State's second touchdown of the game. Take away those two plays, and the game at worst may very well be just 13-10 N.C. State.

-Special teams as a whole: N.C. State and Duke have similiar kickoff return yards: 110 and 132, respectively. The difference is, though, that  the Blue Devils have returned the ball three more times than the Wolfpack. Kevin Jones has punted well, but the coverage is never down the filed far enough when State catches the ball.

N.C. State 24-10, 1:14 remaining, 2nd quarter: It is just not clicking at all for the Blue Devils. Lewis' 3rd down pass near midfield is nearly picked off, and instead Duke punts the ball down to N.C. State's 28-yard line. The Wolfpack will probably try to run the clock out here to get into the half with a two-possession lead and a chance to extend it to more at the beginning of the second half.

N.C. State 24-10, 2:59 remaining, 2nd quarter: Just like that, Duke's task just got a lot more difficult. Wilson completed a strike to wideout Jarvis Williams for a 32-yard touchdown pass, pushing the lead to 24-10, but luckily giving the Blue Devils enough time for a potential touchdown drive.

N.C. State 17-10, 5:41 remaining, 2nd quarter: Duke isn't quite out of it yet--not when this may be the most winnable game left on its schedule as it attempts to become bowl eligible. Lewis hits tight end Brett Huffman over the middle for a 26-yard touchdown pass, the first of Huffman's career, to make it a one-possession game. Now, however, the Blue Devils must stop the N.C. State if it wants to remain in this game. Should the Wolfpack score, it would give them a two-possession lead and the ball at the start of the second half--essentially making a Blue Devils comeback extremely difficult.

N.C. State 17-3, 7:01 remaining, 2nd quarter: Not only has N.C. State played better so far today, it has had far more luck. On 3rd-and-7 from Duke's 30-yard line, Wolfpack quarterback Russell Wilson faced heavy pressure and just heaved the ball toward the middle of the field. It would have been the perfect situation for an interception or, at the absolute worst, an incomplete pass that would've left N.C. State with a 47-yard field goal. Instead, tight end Anthony Hill hauled in the pass over the head of Adrian Aye-Darko that surely had Patriots and Giants fans in a sense of deja vu from the Tyree catch. The Wolfpack scored two plays later on a Wilson pass to Hill.

N.C. State 10-3, 12:14 remaining, 2nd quarter: That was a killer. Duke was driving efficiently down the field and faced 4th-and-1 at N.C. State's 10-yard line. Backup quarterback Zack Asack came in, perhaps setting up the Wolfpack for a run but instead handed it off to Tony Jackson. Jackson, however, hesitated just a moment near the first down marker, and that moment of uncertainty was all N.C. State's defenders needed to stuff him short. Jackson trudged to the bunch with injured captain Re'quann Boyette screaming in his face.

N.C. State 10-3, end of 1st quarter - Cutcliffe has to be disappointed

thus far. Special teams does not seem to have shaken off its problems from

last week and the running game has been stonewalled. The defense stepped up

when called on to keep N.C. State out of the endzone, but they gave up big

plays before that. Duke is going to have to improve in all areas if they

want to win.

N.C. State 10-3, 1:22 remaining, 1st quarter- Any good feelings the

coaching staff had after Maggio's field goal are now completely gone. Once

again, the Blue Devils special teams unit failed miserably and let the

Wolfpack return the kickoff 93 yards for a quick score. T.J. Grahm field the

kick and handed it off to J.C. Neal, who took it up the sideline past all of

the Blue Devil defenders. Let's see how Thad and the offense responds.

N.C. State 3, Duke 3, 1:35 remaining, 1st quarter- The Blue Devils

responded by putting together a 61 yard scoring dirve of their own, but have

to be a little disappointed the drive stalled right before reaching the

endzone. The Wolfpack defensive line is not giving Duke anything on the

ground as all 61 yards came through the air. The Blue Devils would have

moved the ball much more effectively and efficiently if they hadn't insisted

on throwing short passes that went for either no gain or negative yardage

like they did when they reached the 8 yard line. Maggio put a 29 yard field

goal through the uprights to even the score.

N.C. State 3-0, 9:17 remaining, 1st quarter: After an illegal procedure

penalty on Cameron Goldberg on the Blue Devil's first snap put them at 1st

and 15, the offense could only muster 12 yards and was forced to punt. The

Wolfpack took advantage of good field possession and drove 55 yards down the

field to the Duke 5 yard line. The defense practiced the bend-don't-break

theory perfectly and stopped N.C. State from reaching the endzone.

PREGAME: The walk up to Wallace Wade is packed with about equal numbers of

red and blue shirts. Scalpers are hawking for tickets, but the stadium is

currently only about half full with only 5 minutes to go before kickoff. I

would imagine that, given the two school's close proximity, the stadium will

fill up eventually. The student section, though, is only about 10% full-not

surprising given the fact that this was the last tailgate the students get

to enjoy this year. Also, Duke just lost the coin toss for the ninth time in

a row. That has to be close to some type of record.


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