The season-long theme of turnover margin as a leading indicator continued in a lopsided 0-6 comparison.
“There will never be a football game ever played that you can lose the turnover ratio as dramatically poorly as we did today and give yourself any chance to win,” Davis said.
T.J. Yates started the game at quarterback – his first since injuring his ankle against Virginia Tech. However, after completing 10 of his 22 passes – plus tossing an interception - he was spelled by last week’s starter Cameron Sexton.
“Nothing was going right, nothing was in rhythm and nobody was in sync,” Yates said. “We were making turnovers.”
Sexton was no better, completing four of six passes with two interceptions.
“We had a good week of practice in my perspective,” Sexton said. “We were ready to play as we always had been… We just didn’t come out and play well.”
Three of UNC’s turnovers occurred in the first two quarters; however, NC State failed to capitalize and went into the locker room at halftime with just a 10-3 lead.
“Going into halftime we were only down by seven, surprisingly given the amount of mistakes that we made…,” Yates said. “Even though we were playing that bad, we still had a chance to win.”
After exchanging touchdowns early in the third quarter to put the score at 17-10, NC State’s Andre Brown capped off a 10-play 68-yard drive with a two-yard run for pay dirt.
During the ensuing kickoff, Richard Quinn fumbled a short kick and J.C. Neal recovered. On the next play, Russell Wilson connected with Owen Spencer for a 21-yard touchdown to increase NC State’s lead, 31-10.
Wilson gave UNC fits all game long, throwing for 279 yards and two touchdowns on 17-of-28 passing. While he added just 50 yards rushing, Wilson’s mobility consistently allowed him to buy extra time to allow his receivers to get open.
“It’s a complete problem for a defense when a quarterback can extend plays,” Davis said. “Michael Vick was one of those types of guys, may not be the greatest thrower in the world, may not be the best operator, but plays are never over.”
When Yates ended the third quarter with another failed drive, Sexton began to warm-up on the sideline and took over on-the-field duties in on the next offensive drive.
After relying heavily on the pass for the first three quarters, NC State drained nearly 12 minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter with four run-dominant drives to seal the victory.
As head coach of UNC, Butch Davis is now 0-2 against NC State.