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Hot Read: Late Blocked Kick Lifts State

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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NC State uses a late blocked kick to beat undefeated Liberty 15-14.

1. It has been a season for blocked kicks and the third of the year for NC State special teams star Vi Jones might be the biggest yet. After what appeared to be a signature 12-play drive from Liberty, lining up for a relatively short field goal attempt down just one point, Jones came through with the play of the game, deflecting the try and ending the Flames' undefeated run. In a dramatic finish of a hard-fought contest, Jones, a Southern Cal-transfer came through when it mattered most. What a game. What a finish.

2. How about NC State at 6-3 with two winnable regular season games remaining? Dave Doeren's Wolfpack have been one of the ACC's better teams and just stepped out of conference and upended a nationally-ranked, unbeaten bunch. NC State has largely been great in close games, beating Wake Forest, Pittsburgh and Liberty by a combined five points. The Wolfpack play confident, poised football and it shows.

3. Turnovers played a big role in NC State's victory as the Isaac Duffy, Jakeen Harris and Aydan White each recorded interceptions. Two of them came on back-to-back Liberty drives in the fourth quarter. Not only did the Wolfpack play great defensively, holding Liberty to just 289 yards, NC State scored on a safety and made critical momentum-swinging plays with its three interceptions.

4. Running backs Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person, Jr. continue to produce. Knight rushed for 96 yards and two touchdowns, adding five receptions, and Person ran for 83 yards with two catches. Their consistency has helped lead NC State this season and the win over Liberty featured more of the same.

5. Quarterback Bailey Hockman has done a good job stabilizing things for the Wolfpack. Though he didn't have his best game on Saturday, Hockman has been invaluable for NC State this season, has paced the team to multiple wins and now has another high-profile victory to add to his resume.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports