RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Behind a defense that forced four turnovers and didn’t allow a touchdown, North Carolina State is bowl-eligible after beating visiting Miami 20-6 on Saturday night.
The victory for the Wolfpack (6-3, 3-2 ACC) is the first over the Hurricanes (6-3, 2-3 ACC) since 2008. The win was also the 78th for Dave Doeren as N.C. State’s head coach, making him the winningest coach in program history.
“It was a great team win,” Doeren said. “Battled, battled, battled, and just made plays when we needed to.”
Devin Boykin sealed the win for N.C. State when he intercepted Miami’s Tyler Van Dyke with under 4 minutes to play. Aydan White, Brandon Cisse and Davin Vann also came up with turnovers for the Wolfpack. Offensively, MJ Morris completed 11-of-21 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown for N.C. State.
“It was big for us,” White said of the win. “We definitely just got to keep this momentum going. And opponents need to do their homework on N.C. State’s defense. We turned that up for real.”
Miami’s attack was paced by freshman Mark Fletcher Jr., who rushed 23 times for a career-best 115 yards in his first collegiate start.
When Miami entered Wolfpack territory on Saturday, it was plagued by missed opportunities and met by N.C. State’s stifling defense. The Hurricanes scored just once out of the three times it was in the red zone. Miami also missed a 45-yard field goal attempt.
In the fourth quarter, Miami turned the ball over downs at the 3, capping a fruitless 12-play drive that chewed more than 7 minutes off the clock. The Wolfpack responded with an eight-play drive that ended with Kendrick Raphael bouncing off a Miami defender on his way to scoring on a 31-yard touchdown run, which pushed the Wolfpack lead to two possessions. Miami’s next two drives ended in interceptions thrown by Van Dyke.
“We had every opportunity to take control of that game and we didn’t do it,” Miami coach Mario Cristobal said. “And we have to own that.”
N.C. State: The Wolfpack defense was the difference and arguably put forth one of its best efforts of Doeren’s tenure. It’s the first time in his 11 seasons that N.C. State held an ACC opponent to less than seven points. Linebacker Payton Willis again led the Wolfpack defense, racking up 16 tackles, two pass breakups and two quarterback hits.
Miami: The Hurricanes had some success moving the ball, but couldn’t break through N.C. State’s defense when it really mattered. Miami was 4-of-17 on third and fourth down conversion attempts and came away with just three points in three trips to the redzone.
NO QB CHANGE FOR MIAMI
Despite it being the second straight game that Van Dyke threw multiple interceptions and no touchdowns, Cristobal made it sound like the Hurricanes will stick with the fourth-year quarterback.
“I think it’s not just pointing the finger at Tyler. I think, offensively, there’s things we need to do better. The passing game certainly hasn’t been what it needs to be,” Cristobal said. “It’s a little bit of everything. We’ve got to coach it better, we got to get our guys to perform better, and we’ve got to design a couple things that might help us see things more clearly.”
Van Dyke completed 21-of-38 passes against N.C. State for 173 yards. His 55.2% completion rate was his worst of the season.
ARMSTRONG PROVIDES SPARK
After a Sept. 29 loss to Louisville, N.C. State made a change at quarterback, benching sixth-year veteran Brennan Armstrong for Morris, a sophomore. Since then, Armstrong had largely been uninvolved or ineffective in the offense, but that changed against Miami.
The Wolfpack deployed the transfer from Virginia in wildcat-like packages against the Hurricanes, and he led N.C. State in rushing with eight carries for 51 yards. Armstrong’s longest rush of the day – a carry of 15 yards – came on a third-and-2 situation during N.C. State’s touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
“I thought Brennan came in and gave us some really good yards, tough yards,” Doeren said. “He sparked us with some stuff that he did… He’s taken a lot of unnecessary criticism, and it was great to hear the crowd cheer for him tonight.”
Miami: The Hurricanes travel to rival No. 4 Florida State next Saturday.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack face Wake Forest next Saturday in Winston-Salem, N.C.