As Boston College paraded toward the end of the fourth quarter on Saturday night and North Carolina State’s elite defense began to crumble, Eagles defensive end Marcus Valdez could feel the energy dissipating. inside Carter-Finley Stadium.
The Eagles needed a touchdown and an extra point to snap the No. 17 Wolfpack’s 16-game home winning streak and cement their first win against an Associated Press Top 25 team since 2014.
With the game on the line, redshirt freshman quarterback Emmett Morehead kept it simple and uncorked an accurate shoulder throw to Joe Griffin Jr. that they performed hundreds of times in practice.
Griffin made a spectacular one-handed grab with 14 seconds left to cap a 12-play, 69-yard drive that lasted 2 minutes and 33 seconds. Connor Lytton drilled the extra point, the defense made one final save, and the Eagles stunned the Wolfpack, 21-20, in Raleigh, NC.
“Honestly, it’s probably the best feeling I’ve had in six years here,” Valdez said.
Late in the first quarter, BC wide receiver Zay Flowers (7 catches, 130 yards, 2 TDs) became the program’s all-time leader with 2,804 receiving yards, passing Alex Amidon (2,800 TDs). 2010-13). He then carried a 17-yard TD pass from Morehead to cut the deficit to 14-7 with 2:30 left in the first quarter.
“I’ve pitted him against any wide receiver in the country right now,” Hafley said. “To be honest, there’s no other wide receiver I want on my team.”
Neto Okpala and Vinny DePalma helped the Eagles stuff the Wolfpack on fourth-and-1 midway through the second quarter, but BC couldn’t take advantage offensively. Christopher Dunn drilled a 30-yard field goal on the ensuing NC State run to push the margin to 10 with 1:36 left in the half.
Morehead, who threw four TD passes in his first career start last week against Duke, was sharp against the ACC’s top defense (17.8 points allowed per game).
“He’s so calm,” Flowers said. “It’s like you were never playing with Emmett.”
Morehead, however, threw a costly interception late in the half to dampen BC’s momentum and help the Wolfpack hold on to a 17-7 cushion going into halftime. There were games he wanted back, but Hafley reminded Morehead to stay calm and keep trusting himself.
BC held a 140-124 advantage in passing yards in the first half, but NC State’s 150-2 advantage in rushing yards and three sacks paid off. The Eagles were 0 for 6 on third down in the half and allowed 8.1 yards per play.
Dunn drilled a 45-yarder to extend NC State’s lead to 20-7 early in the third. Four minutes later, Flowers zigzagged into the end zone for a 35-yard strike to cut the deficit to 20-14 and give the Eagles some much-needed momentum.
“He’s like a magician there,” Hafley said.
NC State, also playing with a promising but inexperienced quarterback, gave the Eagles plenty of chances late. Morris fumbled near midfield and Okpala recovered, but Morehead threw another pick moments later as NC State held a 6-from-3 point advantage.
DePalma recovered a fumble early in the fourth, and Elijah Jones then intercepted Morris, but the Eagles couldn’t capitalize until the final drive.
Morehead found Dino Tomlin for 29 yards and George Takacs for 17, and eventually Griffin to earn one of the Eagles’ most monumental wins this millennium.
The 25-game losing streak to ranked teams — the second-longest streak in the nation — is history, and Hafley couldn’t be happier. As the Eagles celebrated, Hafley didn’t want them to stop.
It was just a win, but it carried more weight because of what came before and what the Eagles hope to follow.
“Nobody thought we could win, but the only group that did was our team,” Hafley said. “This dressing room is still loud right now, and it’s going to be, and it should be. They deserve it. I’m really, really proud of them.
Get the latest Boston sports news
Get updates on your favorite Boston teams, straight from our newsroom to your inbox.