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Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Instant analysis: NC State 23, WVU 7

By Heather Dinich

Here’s a quick recap of NC State’s 23-7 win:

How the game was won: West Virginia turned it over five times, and NC State didn’t surrender it once. For 11 seconds, NC State quarterback Russell Wilson dizzied West Virginia defenders with his feet on the Pack’s game-deciding touchdown -- a 7-yard pass to Jarvis Williams that gave NC State the 23-7 lead with just less than four minutes to play. Wilson continuously put his team in position to score, but didn’t get enough help from his receivers, who had too many drops. Kicker Josh Czajkowski made three straight field goals to distance the Pack in what was a sloppy game for both teams, with fumbles, drops and missed field goals.

Turning point: With 5:02 left in the game and West Virginia trailing 16-7, Jock Sanders fumbled a punt return and gave NC State possession on the Mountaineers’ 7-yard line just when West Virginia needed an answer the most. Instead, NC State scored three plays later.

Stat of the game: The five turnovers for West Virginia. NC State not having any was the difference in the game.

Player of the game: NC State quarterback Russell Wilson continued to find ways to keep plays alive and finished with 276 passing yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He also added 41 rushing yards.

Unsung hero of the game: NC State’s defense. West Virginia entered the game averaging almost 27 points, and went nowhere against the Wolfpack. NC State recovered four fumbles.

Second guessing: Granted, NC State’s running game has struggled, but with a nine-point lead and about 10 minutes remaining in the third quarter -- not to mention the Pack’s case of drops-itis -- it was hard not to wonder why NC State didn’t at least try to run the ball more if only to run out the clock.

What it means: NC State coach Tom O’Brien earned his 100th career win, his first bowl win at NC State, and the program earned nine wins, the second-most in school history. It marked the end of a season that could wind up being a turning point for O’Brien and the program. The win over a top-ranked team helped compensate for the loss to Maryland in the regular-season finale that knocked NC State out of the ACC championship game.