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Monday, September 22, 2008

NC State Coach Tom O'Brien leads Wolfpack to upset win over East Carolina



September 21, 2008

NORTH CAROLINA STATE 30, NO. 15 EAST CAROLINA 24

Roles Flip and East Carolina Is on Losing Side of an Upset


By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Andre Brown jumped over one defender, then ran over another. Nothing was going to stop him from possibly saving North Carolina State’s season — especially not No. 15 East Carolina.

Brown scored on a 10-yard touchdown run in overtime Saturday, lifting North Carolina State to a 30-24 victory.

Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes — including a tying 5-yarder to George Bryan with 1 minute 12 seconds left in regulation — for N.C. State (2-2). The Wolfpack, a 7-point underdog, never trailed by more than a touchdown. It was the program’s biggest upset since a win at Florida State, then ranked No. 9, in 2005.

“This is the first time we’ve played 60 minutes of tough, hard-nosed football,” N.C. State Coach Tom O’Brien said. “The plays we weren’t making in the past, we made them today.”

The Pirates did not, and now their Bowl Championship Series-busting hopes are all but over. Patrick Pinkney was 19 of 32 for 210 yards and a touchdown for East Carolina (3-1), but he was stripped by Shea McKeen on East Carolina’s third play in overtime.

“The first thing I go for is the ball, especially if the quarterback doesn’t know I’m coming,” McKeen said, “because he’s not going to hold it too tight.”

Brown then hurdled the defender J. J. Milbrook during a remarkable 16-yard run that set up the winning score. On the next play, he powered into defensive lineman Jay Ross while extending the ball over the goal line to end the game.

“I just said, ‘I didn’t want to rely on the kicker,’ ” Brown said. “I want to go out here and put this boy in here and get off the field.”

Brown finished with 73 yards and a 4-yard touchdown reception from Wilson, a redshirt freshman who was making his first home start. Wilson was 21 of 31 for 210 yards and also threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jarvis Williams.

After opening with upsets of then-ranked Virginia Tech and West Virginia, the tables were turned on East Carolina, which looked vulnerable for the second straight week.

East Carolina, a member of Conference USA, usually plays in the shadow of instate rivals from the Atlantic Coast Conference like N.C. State. The attention “was something that we weren’t used to the last couple of years,” safety Van Eskridge said.

Eskridge returned an interception 23 yards for a score and Norman Whitley added 83 yards rushing and a 42-yard scoring run for the Pirates, who never trailed in regulation.

Ben Hartman’s 21-yard field goal with four and a half minutes left put the Pirates ahead, 24-17, but then N.C. State’s offense went to work. Wilson needed only two plays to move into the red zone, then found a sliding Bryan in the end zone five plays later.

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