RALEIGH, N.C. – The host NC State Wolfpack took advantage of a late interception and blocked a field goal within the closing minutes to hold on for a 15-14 win over the 21st-ranked Liberty Flames, Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The Flames (8-1) brought the nation’s second-longest active winning streak into the game, having won their last 10 games since a loss at Virginia on Nov. 23, 2019. NC State advances to 6-3 on the season with its second straight win. Liberty went 2-1 against ACC opponents this season, defeating both Syracuse and Virginia Tech before tonight’s narrow defeat.
Liberty led 14-9 with 8:46 remaining before NC State’s Aydan White picked off a Malik Willis pass at the Liberty 26-yard line. The Wolfpack scored on a Zonovan Knight touchdown run to go ahead, 15-14. The Flames drove from their own eight-yard line all the way to the NC State 21 before Alex Barbir’s go-ahead 39-yard field goal attempt was blocked. The hosts were then able to run out the clock.
These two teams combined to average 74 points per game entering the contest, with both teams posting season lows in both points and yards tonight. NC State outgained Liberty 320-279 for the game. The hosts sustained 14 penalties for 123 yards, while winning the turnover battle, 3-1. Liberty came into the game ranked 12th in the nation with 254.5 rushing yards per game, but the Wolfpack outgained the Flames on the ground, 166-107.
Malik Willis, who came into the game with 15 passing touchdowns and one interception on the season, went 13-for-32 with 172 passing, two passing touchdowns and three interceptions. Noah Frith led the Flames with four catches for 73 yards and one touchdown catch.
NC State’s Bailey Hockman passed 14-for-27 for 154 yards and one interception, while Knight carried the ball 14 times for 96 yards with two TDs and Ricky Person had 14 carries for 82 yards.
Box Score Highlights:
Final Score: 15-14 NC State
NC State (6-3)
Location: Carter-Finley Stadium (Raleigh, N.C.)
- Neither team scored during an opening period which featured a pair of punts and eight penalties. NC State came the closest to getting on the scoreboard, but Christopher Dunn missed a 37-yard field goal attempt at the end of the Wolfpack’s opening drive.
- Liberty drove down to the Wolfpack 11-yard line early in the second quarter, but NC State forced a turnover on downs.
- The Wolfpack capitalized on good field position after a Liberty punt, driving 59 yards on six plays. Knight’s 19-yard touchdown run put the hosts ahead 7-0 with 6:56 remaining in the first half.
- With NC State driving, Cedric Stone picked off a Hockman pass inside the five-yard line. Willis then led a 10-play, 84-yard drive, capped by a 12-yard touchdown pass to Frith to tie the score at 7-all with 19 seconds left in the opening half.
- The Flames took their first lead of the game midway through the third quarter, using a short field. Taking over at its own 47, Willis went 3-for-3 with 51 yards passing including a six-yard touchdown pass to Jerome Jackson.
- NC State tackled Peytton Pickett in the Flames’ end zone for a safety, pulling to within 14-9.
- An interception at Liberty’s 26-yard line set the Wolfpack up in scoring position, and they took advantage, with Knight putting the home team ahead 15-14 with a four-yard rushing touchdown as 6:53 showed on the game clock.
- The Flames’ final two possessions ended in another interception and the aforementioned blocked field goal.
The Flames return to Williams Stadium for their final home game of the 2020 season, playing host to fellow FBS independent UMass Friday at noon. Liberty will recognize 31 seniors prior to kickoff. The Flames and Minutemen will be squaring off for the third consecutive season, having split the last two meetings.
Date: Friday, Nov. 27, 2020
Location: Lynchburg, Va. (Williams Stadium)
Radio: LFSN Radio (Flagship Station: The Journey 88.3 FM Lynchburg)