No. 22 NC State passes big road test by trouncing Boston College, 33-7

Sunday, October 17, 2021
NC State running back Zonovan Knight breaks away from Boston College defenders Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021, in Boston.

BOSTON -- NC State passed a big conference road test in convincing fashion, thumping Boston College 33-7 on Saturday night.

It was the No. 22-ranked Wolfpack's first win away from home and their three straight overall -- including a victory over then-No. 9 Clemson - since a loss at Mississippi State on Sept. 11.

NC State scored on its opening possession when Devin Leary's pass bounced off the back of defender Elijah Jones. Devin Carter grabbed it with his left hand and scooted the final 7 yards for a 40-yard touchdown before Jones realized it was a catch.

With the game tied 7-7 and just seconds left in the first half, the Wolfpack ran their kicking unit out to squeeze in a 27-yard field goal before time expired.

They then added three touchdowns in the third quarter - two of them off back-to-back BC turnovers - to turn a tie game into a blowout.

State dialed in the defense in the second half, keeping the Eagles scoreless and adding a fumble return for a touchdown on a punt attempt and then scoring on a safety late in the game.

"We got hot there in the third quarter, got some takeaways," NC State coach Dave Doeren said.

He credited his players for the second-half adjustments, saying defenders dialed in and tackled better after a first half where Boston College ran the ball with ease.

State's defense totaled three sacks and seven tackles for loss.

Doeren said he hopes it sends a message to those who doubt whether the Wolfpack (5-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are for real.

"I mean, look, I can't control the lack of respect that we seem to get, publicly. We know about it. Our team recognizes that people don't think we're good," he said. "We're going to end up where we're supposed to be at the end of the year, and people will think what they think."

The Wolfpack broke it open when Leary scrambled free and threw a floating pass to Thayer Thomas for a 79 touchdown.

Thomas knew the pass wasn't intended for him. Then he realized he had a chance to catch it.

"On that play, I'm not even a viable option," Thomas said. "It's kind of just like a scramble play. My job is to set the pick for somebody coming underneath me. Devin just went right, he found me and I just had to kind of make a play for him."

The Wolfpack made it 17-10 when BC punter Grant Carlson muffed the snap after the Eagles' opening possession of the second half, and Devan Boykin picked up the ball and ran in from 34 yards out. After Isaiah Moore intercepted Dennis Grosel on a pass that bounced off the receiver's hands, Leary hit Dylan Parham from 4 yards out.

"The 14 points, like that," BC coach Jeff Hafley said, snapping his fingers, "we just couldn't recover from. We were down at that point 24-7, and just felt like a little bit too much at that time."

Leary finished with 251 yards and three touchdowns.

Thomas caught four passes for 122 yards, and Emeka Emezie had two catches to become the Wolfpack's all-time leader in pass receptions, with 203, passing Jaylen Samuels.

The Eagles (4-2, 0-2), have lost back-to-back games against ranked teams since opening the season with four straight wins.

Next week, NC State heads south for another expected road test, against a Miami team that gave North Carolina all it could handle Saturday before falling 45-42.