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Saturday, September 20, 2008
NC State makes a statement with win

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Heather Dinich

For four quarters, militant-mannered NC State coach Tom O'Brien remained stoic, not a single change in his demeanor as his team gave the ball away and stole it back.

Only once did O'Brien let his emotions overcome his poker face -- on the last play of the game when Greenville, N.C. native Andre Brown bullied his way into the end zone for a 10-yard, overtime, game-winning touchdown run.

O'Brien threw his hands in the air, signaling a touchdown, and broke into a huge smile. Well-deserved.

NC State's 30-24 upset of No. 15-ranked rival East Carolina might turn out to be the best ACC game of the day. The Wolfpack found an answer at quarterback in Russell Wilson, and they got a group effort from their defense in the absence of top playmaker Nate Irving.

What does all this mean for the Wolfpack?

* They have an offense when Wilson is running the show. Harrison Beck is no longer needed on third downs. Both Wilson and ECU quarterback Patrick Pinkney threw for 210 yards, but Wilson had three touchdown passes to Pinkney's one. * This team does not quit. After the plethora of injuries to key players -- including the one to Irving during the game -- the Wolfpack had every reason to hang their heads. Instead, they're still playing for something.

* Young players gained some confidence. George Bryan, a redshirt freshman and the last healthy tight end available, caught the game-tying touchdown pass with 1:12 left to play in regulation. And sophomore Jarvis Williams, who missed a deep pass right to him earlier in the third quarter, redeemed himself with a 26-yard reception in the fourth.

* The future is bright. Can they go on a four-game winning streak like they did last year after beating ECU? It's not going to be easy. This is still a young team, and schedule is unforgiving, starting with South Florida. But give this team time to heal and whether it's this year or next, the Wolfpack will eventually be a consistently good football team.