The 2012-2013 Bowl Blitz Invitational presented by STAT BOX STORIES continues with the Music City Bowl, which matches up the NC State Wolfpack (7-5, 4-4 ACC) and Vanderbilt Commodores (8-4, 5-3 SEC). Owen Good, NC State alum and sports columnist for Kotaku.com, takes control of his alma mater for the second Bowl Blitz Invitational in a row as his school seeks another bowl victory.
NC State completes comeback on touchdown pass with 9 seconds remaining, stuns Vanderbilt in Music City Bowl
Nashville, T.N. – Late in the third quarter of the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl, NC State found themselves down 17-0, having not converted a 3rd Down for the game and thrown two interceptions on offense. What would transpire over the remainder of the game will long live in the lore of Wolfpack football, as NC State emerged victorious 21-17.
The game started with a tight back-and-forth, and neither team put points on the board until the second quarter when Vanderbilt QB #11 found WR #87 for a 33-yard touchdown to go up 7-0.
In the third quarter, Vanderbilt scored early on a 23-yard field goal to go up 10-0. The game continued on its slog, with neither team scoring again until a Vanderbilt 15-yard touchdown pass with 1:59 left in the third quarter to put the Commodores up 17-0.
The story of this NC State comeback began on the very next play, as NC State QB #8 found WR #4 for a 75-yard touchdown pass to get the Wolfpack on the board and spark life into the team. On the next Vanderbilt possession, the Commodores fought their way into Wolfpack territory until NC State ROLB #34 forced and recovered a fumble to get the ball back for his team.
Early in the fourth quarter, that same possession for NC State ended with an 8-yard touchdown pass from QB #8 to WR #4 to trim the lead to only a field goal. The Commodores and their fans were reeling as the once-comfortable lead began to evaporate before their eyes on the field.
With 1:23 remaining in the game, NC State QB #8 went down awkwardly on a sack and was forced out of the game with an ankle injury. QB #12 came into the game off the bench and began a 94-yard drive which was capped by a 5-yard touchdown pass from QB #12 to WR #4—the receiver’s third touchdown catch of the game—with only 9 seconds remaining on the clock. With the Wolfpack fans roaring, Vanderbilt was unable to do anything with their final possession of the game, having nothing more to do but leave the field in shock after an improbable bowl loss.
Player of the Game: NC State WR #4, who finished with 9 receptions and 152 yards with 3 touchdown receptions, including a 75-yard touchdown catch on the first play after Vanderbilt went up 17-0 to spark the Wolfpack comeback.
It was over when… NC State QB #12, subbing in for injured QB #8 who went down with an ankle injury on a sack with 1:23 left in the game, hit WR #4 on 3rd-and-Goal for the winning touchdown. QB #12 was 6-of-8 for 49 yards on the final, game-winning drive.
Game Ball goes to… NC State ROLB #34, who forced and recovered a fumble with Vanderbilt on the NC State 42-yard-line following the Wolfpack’s 75-yard TD, swinging the momentum back to NC State. The Wolfpack scored on their ensuing possession.
Stat of the Game: 94. That’s the number of yards that NC State had to travel on their game-winning drive. The Wolfpack traveled the length of the field in 16 plays, ending with a touchdown to steal victory away from the Commodores.
Statistical Tidbits: Vanderbilt out-gained NC State on the ground 118-46, though neither team scored a rushing touchdown. The Wolfpack were masters of the air for the Bowl Game, throwing for 350 yards to Vanderbilt’s 203. … NC State was 1-for-3 on fourth down attempts, while the Commodores succeeded on their sole try. … Both teams suffered two interceptions; the Wolfpack threw two interceptions, while Vanderbilt lost a fumble along with an interception. … Both teams had a WR #80 who caught 7 passes for over 100 yards; for NC State, the yard total was 112, while Vanderbilt’s WR #80 had 102 yards. Neither player caught a touchdown. … Both kickers missed field goal attempts, changing the complexion of a very close game.