Mike Glennon was on point, throwing for 265 yards and 3 touchdowns and the NC State defense picked off Teddy Bridgewater 3 times as the Pack took down Louisville in the 2011 Belk Bowl 31-24.
The Pack came out of the gate strong after halting a long Louisville drive with a Terrell Manning interception, Glennon drove the Pack down and connected with TJ Graham for the score. But Louisville struck back with a score of their own and then a added a field goal to give them the 10-7 lead early in the 2nd, but it was the last time they’d see that lead.
NC State reeled off 4 consecutive scores, including a 35 yard strike from Glennon to Palmer, a long, another impressive touchdown reception by Graham for a score and an interception by Amerson, that he returned 65 yards for the score.
Louisville would make a late push but it was too little too late as Tom O’Brien and company put the finishing touches on an improbable late season surge. The Wolfpack defense was once again the highlight. They are a turnover machine, causing another 3 today and knocking Bridgewater out of the game on two separate occasions.
It was an all-around well played game by NC State and a win they can look to build upon as they prepare for next season.
Glennon Throws TDs: In his first season as a starter, quarterback Mike Glennon has already established himself among the top signal callers in school history. With three scoring throws tonight, Glennon now has 31 for the season, tied for the second-best mark in school history (Russell Wilson had 31 in 2009). Only Philip Rivers, who was named to the Pro Bowl today, had more in a single season for the Wolfpack with 34 in 2003.
In terms of yardage, Glennon tallied 3,054 for the season tied as the fifth-best mark in school history.
Glennon’s three touchdown passes tonight was the second-highest ever for a Pack QB in a bowl game. Rivers threw for five scores against Kansas in the 2003 Tangerine Bowl (NC State 56, Kansas 26).
O’Brien in Bowls: Wolfpack head coach Tom O’Brien has led 11 of his 15 teams to bowl games and has been the head coach on the sidelines in 10 of those contests (his 2006 squad at Boston College won the Meineke Car Care Bowl – previous name of the Belk Bowl – after O’Brien had come to NC State). O’Brien now posts an 8-2 record in those 10 bowl contests.
Amerson Breaks Conference Record: National interception leader David Amerson broke the ACC single-season record for interceptions tonight when he picked off his 12th pass of the season and ran it back for a 65-yard score, and later notched his 13th in the fourth quarter. Amerson broke the mark set by UNC’s Dre Bly in 1996.
Amerson’s single-season mark ties as the second best in FBS history as well. Only Al Worley (Washington, 14 in 1968) has ever had more in a season.
Graham Over 100: Wide receiver T.J. Graham went over the century mark in terms of reception yards for the fourth time this season with seven catches for 116 yards tonight. Tonight’s 100+ yard performance was his first, however, since a 176-yard total against Cincinnati on Sept. 22. His high yardage tally in the eight games since was 56 yards versus Central Michigan. In fact, tonight’s 117 yards was more than his total receiving yards in the last four games combined (110).
Wentz Goes Out: Entering tonight’s game, junior center Camden Wentz had played more snaps that any player on the squad: 856. Wentz, who had 1,918 career snaps under his belt heading into the Belk Bowl, suffered an ankle injury on the Pack’s first drive tonight.
The Pack started a different lineup on the offensive line tonight, marking only the third lineup change on the line all season. Sophomore Rob Crisp got the nod at right tackle, while Mikel Overgaard moved over to left guard.
Pack Scores First: For the first time since the win over UNC on November 5, NC State got on the scoreboard first in tonight’s contest. It marked just the fifth time in 13 games that the Wolfpack scored first.
Bryan Moves up Charts: With three catches tonight, senior tight end George Bryan finished his career with 126 – tied as the seventh best mark in school history.
Turnovers: NC State entered tonight’s game with a 7-0 record when forcing three or more turnovers, 0-5 when forcing two of less. The Pack improved on that figure tonight, as NC State’s notched three interceptions. The total of 27 interceptions on the season increases the Pack’s school record.
Cole Also Caps Off Career in Style: Senior linebacker also had a standout performance in his final game. He posted a team-high 10 tackles, including a pair of sacks and four tackles for loss.