RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Daniel Evans scanned the field and saw the
end zone seemingly sitting half a world away. There were no
timeouts. And there was a ranked opponent ready to defend its small
It seemed like a time for desperation. Instead -- for one game,
anyway -- it was a reason for North Carolina State's frustrated fans
to believe again.
NC State's late comeback on Saturday that ended in a 34-yard touchdown catch by John Dunlap and a 17-15 upset of No. 20 Boston College may have saved coach Chuck Amato's job -- for a little while, at least. But if the Wolfpack are to really turn things around as a program, they will have to reverse the offensive slide that has taken effect over the last few seasons. Here is how NC State stacks up offensively, going back to 2003.
|* -- NC State had 320 yards of offense Saturday night.|
** -- Philip Rivers' senior season
Evans threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to John Dunlap with 8.5
seconds left to cap a stunning comeback and lead the Wolfpack past
No. 20 Boston College 17-15 on Saturday night, making for a
memorable debut for the first-time starter.
Evans -- a redshirt sophomore -- threw for 179 yards for the
Wolfpack (2-2, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) and directed a
72-yard TD drive in the final minute to stun the Eagles (3-1, 1-1).
"That game was storybook," Wolfpack coach Chuck Amato said.
Boston College seemed to have the game in hand after getting the
ball on N.C. State's 35 following an interception with 3:08 left.
But the Wolfpack defense held, stopping Brian Toal on a fourth-down
run to get the ball back at its own 28 with 46 seconds to play.
That left it to Evans, who was elevated past Marcus Stone after
last week's lopsided loss at Southern Mississippi. And the
youngster showed plenty of composure in leading N.C. State to its
first win against a Division I-A opponent.
"The game's never really over, especially with the way our
defense played all day," Evans said.
His first pass on the drive fell incomplete, but he connected
with Anthony Hill for an 18-yard gain and a first down near
midfield. Then, after spiking the ball to stop the clock, Evans
found Dunlap on the left sideline for a 20-yard gain to the 34 with
16.8 seconds left.
Evans went back to Dunlap on the next play in what looked as if
it might be a fruitless desperation try, lofting a pass to the back
right corner of the end zone. But Dunlap jumped to beat DeJuan
Tribble to the ball, bobbled it, then pulled it in just before Paul
Anderson arrived to make the hit.
"[Assistant] Coach [Marc] Trestman said, 'Just get a first
down,'" Evans said. "So all I was really trying to do was get
first down after first down."
The play sent the fans into a frenzy while stunning the Eagles.
After a review upheld the catch, the Wolfpack kicked the extra
point for the 17-15 lead.
Once Tribble returned the kickoff to the BC 37 for the final
play, the Wolfpack sideline spilled onto the field in exuberant
celebration. Evans, meanwhile, calmly walked to join his teammates
before stopping to receive a hug from Stone.
It was the Wolfpack's first home win against a ranked opponent
since beating Florida State late in the 2002 season.
The win meant plenty for N.C. State after two straight losses.
The Wolfpack first lost at home to Akron 20-17 on a touchdown on
the game's final play, then were handed a humbling 37-17 loss at
Southern Miss last week that prompted Amato to rethink his
The losses also further irked a fan base frustrated with the
Wolfpack's up-and-down ways. And even though Amato has led his alma
mater to five bowl games in his first six seasons, the coach felt
compelled to defiantly defend the program's direction earlier this
On this night, the Wolfpack backed up the coach by fighting the
ranked Eagles the whole way. Andre Brown ran for 97 yards,
including a 26-yard touchdown run that put the Wolfpack ahead 10-9
entering the fourth quarter.
And the defense held BC to 321 total yards, making the Eagles
work the whole way before stopping them to get the ball back for
Evans' final drive.
"They just never stopped fighting," Amato said. "You should
have heard them in the huddle on that fourth-down play, before they
went on the field. It was, 'They aren't getting it.'"
Matt Ryan threw for 149 yards and a touchdown for the Eagles,
who retook the lead on Toal's 2-yard run with 12:55 to play. But
Ryan overthrew Kevin Challenger near the goal line on the 2-point
try, keeping the lead at 15-10. Ryan also threw an interception in
the end zone to end a third-quarter drive.
The mistakes came back to haunt them on Evans' last drive, which
handed the Eagles the sting of a close loss after they had won
consecutive double-overtime games against Clemson and Brigham
"It's a tough way to lose," Boston College coach Tom O'Brien
said. "We've been on the edge all season with last-minute plays.
This time, we were on the short end."
L.V. Whitworth added 109 yards rushing for Boston College.