Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports
It has been a tough couple of weeks for redshirt sophomore wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. He had caught seven passes for 72 yards and a score in the first two games of the season, but during a lopsided win over Furman in week three at home he never saw the field.
Head coach Dave Doeren explained why the following Monday: Meyers had a bad week of practice and didn’t deserve the chance to play. Through it all, Meyers learned a valuable lesson.
“The game isn’t personal,” Meyers said. “People are here to help us. Nobody has it out for us on the coaching staff.
“They never have it out for us; they just see something in us. They want you to get better.”
Meyers apologized and attacked practice better this past week. The result showed. He caught five passes for 112 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown on a play when he was not even supposed to be on the field.
“I was surprised when they told me to stay in the game,” Meyers recalled.
He took the pass from Finley, shook off an open-field tackle attempt by Florida State’s best player, redshirt sophomore safety Derwin James, and was off for the races. His impressive somersault, including sticking the landing, was an ill-advised move., but the score proved to be a huge play in the contest, giving NCSU a 17-7 lead with 1:34 left before halftime.
Meyers said “never again” would he make the celebration mistake, but his first career 100-yard receiving effort was sweet redemption. What made it best was his family, including his parents and grandparents, were in the stands to watch.
That is not unusual. His father has been to every game. His mother is a flight attendant, but she comes when she can, including last Saturday when Meyers didn’t play. Meyers’ family always has his back, even after a tough game like Furman.
“I don’t know why she was so happy,” Meyers said. “They knew every time I got water, I was like, ‘Okay, I appreciate that.’”
This Saturday, his mother had so much more to celebrate.
Defensive Line Was Stout
NC State has been waiting for its vaunted defensive line to step up, and on Saturday it did that. The unit combined for four sacks, led by senior defensive end Bradley Chubb’s monster effort.
Chubb finished with seven tackles, including a pair of sacks, and forced a key first-half turnover when he smacked the ball out of scrambling freshman quarterback James Blackman’s hands.
As senior H-back Jaylen Samuels noted after the game, Chubb “made a lot” of money with his game tape.
However, Chubb was not alone. Defensive tackles B.J. Hill and Justin Jones both had sacks as well.
“Heart,” head coach Dave Doeren said after the game. “Guys got big hearts. They wanted it.”
In total, the NC State defense forced Florida State to kick four field goals in the red zone in six trips. FSU sophomore kicker Ricky Aguayo missed another field attempt inside the 20, and only once did the Noles get a touchdown. That came when Blackman completed a four-yard pass to junior Auden Tate on third-and-goal.
“It was huge,” Samuels said of the defense. “They played great. It was phenomenal.”
The defense came up especially large in the fourth quarter. Even after the Pack offense gave up a safety on a bad snap in the end zone and the special teams allowed a punt to be blocked, the defense rose up.
“I was telling the D-line the whole time, no matter what happens in the game it’s going to rely on what we do,” Chubb said.
Fourth Quarter Drive Proved Consequential
When Florida State cut the lead to 20-16 with 14:08 left in the fourth quarter on Aguayo’s third of four field goals, NC State’s offense faced a breaking point-type moment in the game.
A touchdown puts NC State in position to win. A Florida State stop and doubts may start to creep in.
Junior running back Nyheim Hines started the drive with runs of seven and eight yards. A quick screen pass from redshirt junior quarterback Ryan Finley to Samuels picked up eight more yards. Hines then ran for six more yards. NC State had first-and-10 at the Florida State 46.
The drive came close to ending there. Two plays netted only a yard, and NCSU narrowly escaped a false start penalty by calling timeout before the flag was thrown. On third-and-nine, Finley threw a high pass to redshirt junior wide receiver Stephen Louis.
Louis climbed the ladder for a 10-yard gain that was upheld on review.
“That was like a Dennis Rodman rebound,” head coach Dave Doeren said.
“That was a sight adjustment,” Finley added. “Steph was looking, and I am glad he was looking. A really, really good play by him to move the chains.”
The next play Hines ran for 17 yards to the 18. He then added a four-yard rush to set up Finley’s shovel pass to Samuels that went for a 14-yard touchdown.
The Pack led 27-16 with 9:16 left in the game, gaining a cushion and also eating up 4:58 off the clock on a hot, muggy afternoon in Tallahassee
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