No. 24 N.C. State rides fast start to rout of ASU
Ryan Finley looked more than ready for the NFL while leading North Carolina State to an easy victory in the Sun Bowl. All that remains is his decision.
Finley, a redshirt junior, passed for 318 yards and a touchdown and his running backs gave him a lot of help in the Wolfpack’s 52-31 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, on Friday.
Junior halfback Nyheim Hines, also considered a possible early draft entry, rushed for a career-high three touchdowns, Reggie Gallaspy II rushed for two and Jaylen Samuels added another as the Wolfpack (9-4) were never threatened after opening a 21-3 lead.
“It just really goes to show how great our offensive line is,” Hines told reporters. “I’ll definitely have to treat them when I get back to Raleigh.”
Finley completed 24-of-29 passes without an interception. He has one year of eligibility remaining but is considered a lock to go in the first round of the 2018 NFL draft. He has said he will make the call after speaking with his family.
North Carolina State, which had 491 yards total offense, was ranked in the final college football playoff poll for the first time in school history.
“Top 25 is the standard we want for this program,” North Carolina State coach Dave Doreen said.
Hines scored on three 5-yard runs in the first half and Gallaspy II had two in the second half. Gallaspy had 79 yards rushing and Hines had 72.
Gallaspy’s first touchdown run, a 23-yarder, made it 38-10 on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Quarterback Manny Wilkins completed 25 of 40 passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns, and also ran for a touchdown for the Sun Devils (7-6), but he also had three second-half interceptions.
Wilkins rushed for a touchdown and completed a 19-yard scoring pass to Kyle Williams in a 59-second span of the mid-fourth quarter close the deficit to 38-24 before Jaylen Samuels’ touchdown pushed the Wolfpack’s lead to 45-24.
N’Keal Harry had nine catches for 142 yards and a touchdown for Arizona State, playing its last game under coach Todd Graham. Herman Edwards was hired after Graham was fired a day after the regular season ended.
“We didn’t stop them,” Graham said. “We didn’t play very good defense. Turning the ball over was big. We couldn’t get off the field on third down. It’s hard on the kids to not be distracted, but no excuses.
“We didn’t play well, and our guys know that.”
Jakobi Meyers caught seven passes for 76 yards and a touchdown and Stephen Louis caught three passes for 115 yards for the Wolfpack.
Samuels caught seven passes for 46 yards and passed Jerricho Cotchery as the leading receiver in school history with 202 receptions.
Hines had his first two touchdowns in a 3 1/2-minute span late in the first quarter and early in the second for 14-0 lead. The Sun Devils went three-and-out in the possession between the scores.
Brandon Ruiz made a 24-yard field goal to make it 14-3 before Hines capped a 75-yard drive with his third 5-yard score.
Wilkins hit Harry on a 6-yard scoring pass to cut it to 21-10 with 2:29 left in the half, but Finley threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Meyers for a 28-10 lead after the Wolfpack recovered an onside kick.
NOTES: North Carolina State senior defensive end Bradley Chubb, a consensus All-American and the Bronko Nagurski and Ted Hendricks awards winner, opted not to play. “Me and my family sat down and felt for me it was best not to play in this game,” Chubb told the Raleigh News & Observer. “I gave my all to this university for four years. I feel like one game doesn’t define who I am as a person or a player.” Chubb is a projected to be a high first-round pick in the 2018 NFL draft. ... Arizona State redshirt junior linebacker Christian Sam did not play, seeming to confirm reports that he will forgo his senior season and declare for the NFL draft. He led the Sun Devils with 127 tackles and had three sacks. ... Sun Devils QB Manny Wilkins became the ninth player in school history to reach 3,000 yards passing in a season with his 14-yard pass to WR N’Keal Harry midway through the second quarter. He 3,270 yards are sixth in school history.