New-look NC State grinds past UConn 24-14 in season opener

Friday, September 1, 2023
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East Hartford, Conn. -- N.C. State overcame an early deficit to wear down pesky UConn 24-14 in the season opener for both teams on Thursday night.

UConn jumped out early, with Joseph Fagnano hitting on all three of his passes on a 12-play, 75-yard opening drive. Victor Rosa capped that off with an 18-yard touchdown run over the right side.

But the Huskies had just 50 yards of offense the rest of the half.

N.C. State responded with a 66-yard scoring drive on its first possession,

It was a new look Wolfpack in many ways, with transfer quarterback Brennan Armstrong making his first start. It was also Armstrong's reunion with N.C. State's new offensive coordinator Robert Anae, who coached him at Virginia.

A more familiar face, Wolfpack linebacker Payton Wilson, had a late interception to seal the victory.

NC State running back Delbert Mimms III barrels into the end zone for a touchdown in the third quarter at UConn in the season opener.
Bryan Woolston

It was the sixth consecutive win for the Wolfpack to open the year, but it wasn't smooth or easy.

Armstrong threw for 155 yards and ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns. The grad transfer completed 17 of 26 passes and carried the ball 19 times, including on touchdown runs of 4 and 8 yards.

"It feels good," Armstrong said. I'm really glad to get back into that winning feeling, that winning mentality."

Rosa ran for 99 yards and scored both of UConn's touchdowns, including a 71-yard run that got the Huskies to within three points in the third quarter.

But he somersaulted into the end zone at the end of the run and that celebration forced the Huskies to kick off from the 20-yard line.

The Wolfpack's Julian Gray returned it 40 yards, and another 15 yards was added after the Wolfpack's Rakeim Ashford was hit on the sideline at the end of the play.

N.C. State's Rakeim Ashford is carted off of the field after being seriously injured by a late hit in the third quarter.
Bryan Woolston

Ashford lay motionless for more than 10 minutes and was taken off the field on a stretcher. He was taken to a hospital for evaluation where he was to be kept overnight.

Armstrong's second touchdown run of the game, from 8 yards out gave the Wolfpack a 24-14 lead.

The Wolfpack's Brayden Narveson hit a 44-yard field goal as time expired in the first half and NC State led 10-7 at intermission.


Ashford's injury changed the entire mood of the game. Replays showed him being blindsided just after Gray was tackled. A cart was brought onto the field, but not used. Ashford was eventually strapped to a stretcher and wheeled off the field. UConn's Isiah Davis was called for unnecessary roughness on the play.

UConn coach Jim Mora has been vocal about his hopes that UConn can get an invite into a Power Five football conference and a win over an ACC opponent would have helped that cause. The Huskies play three more Power Five games this year, against Duke, Boston College and Tennessee.


North Carolina State: The Wolfpack host No. 13 Notre Dame on Sept. 9.

UConn: The Huskies play their first road game at Georgia State on Sept. 9.