Cavaliers Bow Out to Bowens
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Virginia has been finding ways to win all season. For seven straight games the Cavaliers somehow pulled out one game after another with an NCAA-best five wins of six points or fewer.
But Virginia couldn't find a way to stop the unlikely connection of Daniel Evans-to-Donald Bowens and one of the nation's longest and most inexplicable winning streaks came to a halt at Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday as N.C. State knocked off Virginia 29-24.
It was a fairly stunning worst-beats-first as N.C. State gained its first conference win while handing Virginia its first conference defeat and knocking the Cavs back into a tie in the loss-column with in-state rival Virginia Tech in the Coastal Division.
"A lot of things we did went well and a lot of things didn't go so well," said Virginia quarterback Jameel Sewell, who couldn't finish the game due to cramps. "It was one of those games where those things just happen."
The Cavaliers (7-2, 4-1 in the ACC) entered the game having won three straight games on fourth-quarter comebacks and seemed poised to do it again. Virginia took its first lead of the game early in the fourth quarter on a Mikell Simpson touchdown.
But unlike anybody else who has faced Virginia this year, the Wolfpack (3-5, 1-3) had a late response. And that response was Donald Bowens. Evans found Bowens deep down the right sideline for his second touchdown of the game as State regained a lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
"He did a great job putting the ball on the money," Bowens said of Evans. "He's always been confident and tonight he just threw the ball and made some big plays."
Evans topped 300 yards for the second straight week, this time finishing with 348 yards and three touchdowns. Bowens doubled all his previous career highs, making 11 receptions for 202 yards and two touchdowns. Bowens reeled in the first and last touchdowns of the game and did everything else in between to help the Wolfpack spring the upset.
"(Bowens is) a guy who bought into what we were teaching from day one," said N.C. State head coach Tom O'Brien. "I've always said that you have to grab on to opportunities that present themselves and he's an example of that. Donald got an opportunity and seized it. Tonight, he made some great grabs and gave a lot of effort."
Player of the Game: Do we have to ask? Donald Bowens was the man all game long. Evans found him short, he found him long and looked to him for big catches throughout. Bowens set the tone with a 40-yard touchdown on State's third offensive play of the game and then won it with a fourth-quarter touchdown. He added a diving catch down the sideline to help ice the game late -- a catch that also put him over 200 yards. Not bad for a guy who had never been over 100 in his life.
Play of the Game: Can't be redundant and claim any of the various huge catches by Bowens. So how about the play that knocked out Virginia quarterback Jameel Sewell late in the fourth quarter. Sewell had led three late-game drives in a row for the Cavs but the offense looked lost with freshman backup Peter Lalich under center. Virginia never came close after Sewell went down.
Up Next: Virginia looks to rebound back in Charlottesville with a tough matchup against Wake Forest. The Wolfpack looks to keep their modest two-game winning streak alive when they travel south to take on Miami in Coral Gables.