NC State blocks FG to fend off No. 21 Liberty
RALEIGH, N.C. — For the second time this season, No. 21 Liberty discovered itself lining up for a late discipline purpose to beat an Atlantic Coast Convention group on the street.Solely this time, Vi Jones and North Carolina State got here up with the play to finish the Flames’ good season.Jones blocked Alex Barbir’s 39-yard discipline purpose try with 1:18 left to assist the Wolfpack beat Liberty 15-14 on Saturday evening, handing the Flames their first lack of the yr.It was a becoming end for the Wolfpack (6-3), whose surging offense sputtered a lot of the evening whereas the protection and particular groups got here by with huge performs — significantly within the fourth quarter.”All the pieces that is come at them, they’ve responded,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren stated. “Folks have doubted this soccer group all yr. For us to now sit right here with six wins and two [top-25 wins] says so much about them.”Liberty (8-1) was making an attempt to earn a 3rd victory towards an Atlantic Coast Convention opponent this yr, all on the street. The Flames had their shot to increase the perfect begin in program historical past, too, placing collectively a drive to present Barbir — who had kicked a 51-yard discipline purpose to beat Virginia Tech earlier this season — a shot on the lead.This time, it did not work.”We talked about it on the headsets and felt he earned that proper,” Liberty coach Hugh Freeze stated. “Clearly, now possibly we should always have been extra aggressive. We gave us an opportunity to win it with him. The kick regarded actual low.”Jones stated Barbir’s kick hit him in the fitting elbow, setting off a sideline celebration for NC State.”It was only a desperation block,” stated Jones, who has blocked two punts this season. “We go in and I am the jumper in it. And I simply jumped as excessive as I might. I keep in mind seeing the ball coming and simply — increase — it hits me proper right here, in my elbow.”I used to be like, ‘Oh, I blocked it, I blocked it!'”Zonovan Knight ran for 2 touchdowns to steer NC State, together with the go-ahead 4-yard rating with 6 minutes, 53 seconds left. That play was arrange by a diving interception from true freshman reserve Aydan White.Malik Willis threw for 172 yards and two touchdowns for Liberty however had three interceptions, two coming within the fourth quarter. He additionally ran for 44 yards because the Flames managed simply 279 complete yards.THE TAKEAWAYLiberty: The Flames arrived searching for to comply with up street wins towards Syracuse and Virginia Tech, which had marked the soccer impartial’s first victories towards ACC groups after shedding their first eight matchups. They scored an enormous landing with 19 seconds left earlier than halftime, then went forward 14-7 halfway by the third quarter solely to see the Wolfpack reply.”Felt like our children performed onerous, performed their guts out for us, and I felt like we did not have a adequate plan for them to attain sufficient factors,” Freeze stated. “It is simply not a superb feeling, however I am happy with them, happy with the best way they fought.”NC State: That is two wins in a row for the Wolfpack, who beat Florida State final weekend after a lopsided loss at rival North Carolina and a shootout loss to No. 12 Miami. NC State gained regardless of having 14 penalties for 123 yards and struggling offensively after scoring 79 factors in its earlier two video games.POLL IMPLICATIONSLiberty’s loss might drop the Flames out of the AP High 25 after three consecutive weeks that marked this system’s first look.LOW OUTPUTLiberty’s 279 yards have been by far its lowest complete this season, surpassing the earlier mark of 357 yards towards North Alabama.”It is all on me,” Willis stated. “I take the blame for that loss. I take the blame for turning the ball over and placing us in horrible conditions the place the protection was choosing me up each time.”GRIND IT OUTKnight additionally had a first-half landing run and ran for 96 yards, whereas Ricky Particular person Jr. added 83 yards on the bottom. That was a part of a 167-yard speeding effort that largely needed to carry the Wolfpack’s offense with Bailey Hockman getting nothing going persistently within the passing recreation.CARRYING THE OFFENSEWith NC State’s offense combating for each yard, the protection and particular groups got here up with a key third-quarter sequence that proved crucial.Hockman’s quick-kick punt on a stalled offensive drive was downed on the Liberty 3-yard line, then Isaiah Moore stuffed Peytton Pickett on the following play for a security with 3:34 left within the interval.UP NEXTLiberty: The Flames return house to host Massachusetts on Friday.NC State: Syracuse hosts the Wolfpack in ACC play subsequent Saturday.