The North Carolina State Wolfpack put an exclamation point on their 2017 season with a 52-31 thumping of the Arizona State Sun Devils in the 2017 Sun Bowl. The Wolfpack offense was as balanced as it has been all season, and was rarely slowed down by the Sun Devils defense. N.C. State finished the year at 9-4 and will likely be ranked in the final polls. Meanwhile, Arizona State fell to 7-6, and Herm Edwards now takes over the program.
N.C. State Wolfpack Run Wild in Sun Bowl
N.C. State used a balanced offense, centered around a highly effective rushing attack, to finish 2017 with a statement. This is another step on head coach Dave Doeren’s path to building the Wolfpack program. In a crowded and talented Atlantic Coast Conference, that will be easier said than done. But wins like this will go a long way to nudging closer and closer to Virginia Tech, Florida State, Miami, and Clemson.
“Top 25 (in the College Football Playoff rankings) is the standard we want for this program,” Doeren said.
Wolfpack Running Wild
Nyheim Hines and Reggie Gallaspy II combined for 142 yards and five touchdowns on the ground as the Wolfpack ran wild on Friday. Doeren’s team was unstoppable on offense, scoring 21 points in both the second and fourth quarters. The Wolfpack involved almost every starter in the game plan. Hines was named the Sun Bowl’s MVP for his 100 total yards and three scores.
Quarterback Ryan Finley was at his best in the Sun Bowl, going 24-29 for 318 yards and a touchdown. He found Stephen Louis wide open a few times in the first half, as the junior finished with 3 catches for 115 yards. Finley completed passes to seven different receivers, including four who caught three or more passes. Kelvin Harmon had four grabs for 24 yards to surpass 1000 yards on the season. Finley will return next season along with eight other offensive starters. The Wolfpack could be a very explosive offense in 2018.
N.C. State controlled this game from start to finish, but the Sun Devils did have a ray of hope early. After scoring their first touchdown to cut the lead to 21-10 with two minutes left in the half, Todd Graham called for an onside kick. They did not recover and it left the Wolfpack with great field position. Finley and company cashed in the opportunity and took a 28-10 lead into the halftime break. Arizona State never got within 14 points in the second half.
The two teams combined to score 42 points in the fourth quarter, setting a Sun Bowl record. The 45 second half points tied a record, and the 83 total points was second most in the game’s history. That’s saying something, as the Sun Bowl is one of the oldest of college football’s post-season games.
The Wolfpack’s Jaylen Samuel had 7 catches for 46 yards and broke the school’s career receptions record. He also scored a rushing touchdown and recovered an onside kick late in the fourth quarter.
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