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NC State Falls to Kansas State in Pop-Tarts Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla. –  A late fourth-quarter touchdown from No. 25 Kansas State was enough to hold off No. 18 NC State as the Wildcats beat the Wolfpack 28-19 Thursday night from Camping World Stadium in the Pop-Tarts Bowl.

A 15-play 72-yard drive that took 7:24 off the clock turned a two-point game into a nine-point game late in the fourth quarter as Kansas State took a 28-19 lead with 2:45 remaining. That score proved the difference as the Wolfpack couldn’t overcome the deficit.

Brennan Armstrong was 14-28 and 164 yards and an INT. On the ground, Armstrong ran for 121 yards on 17 attempts and a touchdown. Armstrong became the first 100-yard rusher this season and finished with the most rushing yards in a season by an NC State QB with 665 yards.

The ACC Offensive Rookie of the Year, KC Concepcion, led the Wolfpack in receiving with seven receptions for 72 yards. He finishes his freshman season 114 yards short of the NC State freshman receiving record.

Kansas State was led by RB DJ Giddens, who accounted for 152 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Avery Johnson was 14-31 for 178 yards and two touchdowns.

Despite allowing 21 points in the first half, the Wolfpack defense was strong in the second half, only allowing the late touchdown. Sean Brown and Shyheim Battle each had seven tackles to lead the defense.

Kansas State struggled on third down, going 4-15, but was 4-4 on fourth down on their way to 436 yards of offense compared to the Wolfpack’s 399 total yards.

The Wolfpack found themselves down early as Kansas State took the opening drive 75 yards on six plays, converting on a fourth and five for a 37-yard touchdown. Giddens accounted for all 75 yards for Kansas State on their opening drive.

NC State took it inside the Red Zone but could not come away with any points as the Wildcats got a fourth down stop to get the ball back.

The NC State defense looked to get off the field after a three-and-out, but Kansas State ran a fake punt that went 30 yards into Wolfpack territory, which they would later capitalize off of with another Giddens touchdown.

The Wolfpack’s leading rusher put NC State on the scoreboard as Armstrong went untouched on a 31-yard run to make it 14-7.

With the first half coming to a close, both teams put points on the board as Kansas State quarterback Avery Johnson scampered in for 19 yards. The Wolfpack cut into the 21-7 lead as time expired, with Brayden Narveson hitting a 26-yard field goal.

Just as the second half ended, the Wolfpack opened the third quarter putting three points up on the board to cut into the lead with Narveson drilling a 49-yard field goal to make it a one-possession game at 21-13

Narveson trotted out to attempt his third field goal of the day but narrowly missed from 52 yards out to keep in 21-13 in favor of Kansas State.

The Wolfpack reached into their bag of tricks and ran a fake punt of their own as a direct snap to Trent Pennix, who went 60 yards into the endzone to make it a two-point game. The ensuing two-point conversion was unsuccessful and kept the score 21-19. It was Pennix’s longest rush of his career.

NC State is one of only five teams in the Power 5 that has won eight or more games in each of the last four seasons. The Wolfpack finish the 2023 season 9-4.






NFL/Carolina Panthers


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