NC State Escapes Against No. 21 Liberty, 15-14

Local Sports

North Carolina State’s Ricky Person Jr. (8) looks for running room against Liberty during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, in Raleigh, N.C. (Ethan Hyman/The News & Observer via AP, Pool)

RALEIGH, N.C. – The host NC State Wolfpack took advantage of a late interception and blocked a field goal within the closing minutes to hold on for a 15-14 win over the 21st-ranked Liberty Flames, Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium.

        The Flames (8-1) brought the nation’s second-longest active winning streak into the game, having won their last 10 games since a loss at Virginia on Nov. 23, 2019. NC State advances to 6-3 on the season with its second straight win. Liberty went 2-1 against ACC opponents this season, defeating both Syracuse and Virginia Tech before tonight’s narrow defeat.

        Liberty led 14-9 with 8:46 remaining before NC State’s Aydan White picked off a Malik Willis pass at the Liberty 26-yard line. The Wolfpack scored on a Zonovan Knight touchdown run to go ahead, 15-14. The Flames drove from their own eight-yard line all the way to the NC State 21 before Alex Barbir’s go-ahead 39-yard field goal attempt was blocked. The hosts were then able to run out the clock.

        These two teams combined to average 74 points per game entering the contest, with both teams posting season lows in both points and yards tonight. NC State outgained Liberty 320-279 for the game. The hosts sustained 14 penalties for 123 yards, while winning the turnover battle, 3-1. Liberty came into the game ranked 12th in the nation with 254.5 rushing yards per game, but the Wolfpack outgained the Flames on the ground, 166-107.

        Malik Willis, who came into the game with 15 passing touchdowns and one interception on the season, went 13-for-32 with 172 passing, two passing touchdowns and three interceptions. Noah Frith led the Flames with four catches for 73 yards and one touchdown catch.

        NC State’s Bailey Hockman passed 14-for-27 for 154 yards and one interception, while Knight carried the ball 14 times for 96 yards with two TDs and Ricky Person had 14 carries for 82 yards.

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