NC State defeats UCF 34-27 in Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl

(St. Petersburg, FL) Junior quarterback Jacoby Brissett and the NC State Wolfpack made certain that the ACC’s first appearance in the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl was a victorious one.

Named NC State’s game MVP, Brissett completed 15-of-26 passes for 262 yards and a touchdown and Matt Dayes added a pair of rushing scores to lead the Wolfpack (8-5) to a 34-27 win over American Athletic Conference co-champion UCF (9-4) Friday night at Tropicana Field in the seventh annual St. Petersburg event in front of an announced crowd of 26,675.

NC State controlled much of the game and extended its lead to 34-13 on Niklas Sade’s second field goal of the night with 12:37 left in the fourth quarter. UCF, though, kept things interesting with the second and third scoring receptions by the Knights’ game MVP Josh Reese to cut the margin to 34-27 with 1:44 remaining.

The Wolfpack then pounced on an onside kick and ran out the clock to secure the win.

Second-year Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren was very impressed with the effort of his team, considered by many to be one of the youngest in the nation.

“I want to say thank you to the players,” Doeren said. “They played their butts off. The rest of our coaches did a great job and the players made it all possible. I’m really proud of all our players.”

Doeren praised the growth and play of his quarterback Brissett.

“He takes things so personal,” Doeren added. “He is such a competitor. He gives all the credit to his teammates. He learned a lot throughout this season, and we love him.”

Brissett’s comments after the game were an example of what Doeren alluded to.

“I was just grateful for the chance they gave me to become the starting quarterback of this team,” Brissett said after receiving his MVP trophy. “It was truly a dream come true.

“From last season to this season, we went in with the mindset to attack the season,” Brissett added. “I want to give credit to our coaches and the rest of my teammates. We all play as one.”

The game was close throughout the first half as the lead changed hands three times before NC State headed to the locker room at intermission with a 17-10 lead.

UCF opened the scoring with a 40-yard field goal from Shawn Moffitt but NC State answered quickly with the game’s first touchdown on an option pass by running back Shadrach Thornton to Jaylen Samuels.

Reese notched his first scoring reception — a six-yarder from Justin Holman — early in the second quarter to put UCF back in front at 10-7. NC State then took the lead for good when Brissett connected with Johnathan Alston from 37 yards out. The Wolfpack added Sade’s first field goal at the three-minute mark to push the margin to 17-10.

Dayes, who finished with 78 yards on 13 carries, scored his two rushing touchdowns in a third period that saw NC State outscore the Knights, 14-3, and push the lead to 31-13.

Thornton narrowly missed the 100-yard rushing mark as he led all ball carriers in the game with 96 yards on 17 attempts.

Holman finished the night completing 23-of-51 passes for 291 yards and the three scoring tosses to Reese. The 291 yards were just three shy of the St. Petersburg Bowl record.

Bitcoin Bowl Log

GAME NOTES

Game MVPs:
NC State – QB Jacoby Brissett – 15/26, 262 passing yards, 1 touchdown
UCF – WR Josh Reese – 6 receptions, 75 yards, 3 touchdown receptions

The teams combined for 860 total – second-most in bowl history.
(NC St with 487 total yards and UCF with 373 total yards)
Attendance for today’s game was second-most in bowl history, listed at 26,675.

UCF’s loss ends the current 3-game winning streak that AAC held in bowl history.

UCF
• Wide Receiver Josh Reese’s 3 touchdown receptions sets the bowl record for most receiving touchdowns.
• Quarterback Justin Holman’s 291 passing yards ended as the second-most in bowl history. His 53 passing attempts finished as the most in bowl history.
• Justin Holman’s 3 touchdown passes ties the record for most touchdown passes in the history of the bowl.
• Justin Holman’s touchdown pass in the second quarter continued his streak to 10 straight games with a TD pass.
• Wide Receiver Breshad Perriman’s 138 receiving yards were the second-most in bowl history.
• Kicker Shawn Moffitt (UCF) 45-yard field goal finished the game tied for 2nd for longest field goal in bowl history.
• Punter Caleb Houston’s average of 42.8 yards per punt is a bowl record.
• UCF tied a bowl game record for fewest penalties (3) and penalty yardage (30).

NC STATE
• Quarterback Jacoby Brissett’s 262 passing yards ended as the 5th-most in bowl history.
• The touchdown pass from Shadrach Thornton was the 3rd-non QB touchdown pass in bowl history. Thornton was also the first running back to score by throwing a touchdown.
• Matt Dayes’ two touchdown runs ties a bowl record for most rushing touchdowns.
• NC State’s ground game tied a bowl game record with 49 rushing attempts.

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