For a team that turned around following a shutout by a top-25 team to play a primetime game less than a week afterwards, Tech showed no sluggish effects from the get-go. It took all of three plays for the Jackets to march to the end-zone on the first play of the game, with a pair of James Graham passes to Malachi Carter and Ahmarean Brown, respectively for 71 yards on the short drive. That drive set the tempo for the Tech offense —the Jackets busted open the NC State defense to the tune of 395 yards and 28 points. Even though those eye-opening numbers came against a middling NC State defense, it was still a promising showing for a Tech offense that has produced thus far this season only in fits and starts.The second half was another story, as Tech slowed offensively and allowed NC State to get back into the game. Tech was outscored 23-7 in the second half, with a Graham touchdown providing the only score for the Jackets. Tech held firm, however, when it mattered most — thanks to pressure from Christian Campbell, NC State failed a game-tying two-point conversion, and Tech was able to run out the clock for the victory, 28-26. Here were the biggest takeaways from Tech’s penultimate game of the season.
Jordan Mason scorches NC State defense
RB Jordan Mason has been one of the few consistent bright spots for the Jackets this year — and no one shone brighter than the Jackets’ budding star Thursday night. Mason single-handedly out-gained NC State in the first quarter, 86 yards to 77, thanks to a career-long 48-yard long rush to put Tech knocking firmly on the Wolfpack’s door. Mason also helped close the door on NC State late in the game— needing to burn the clock, the Jackets gave Mason the ball 7 times on 8 plays to clinch the victory. Mason has been the magic man for Tech, breaking tackles left and right like defenders are simply passing straight through him, and he demonstrated the same slippery abilities Thursday in finishing the night with 141 yards on 22 carries for Tech.
Graham has career game
Graham has struggled with inconsistency for much of the season, at times even hitting the bench for poor play. But Collins has stuck by his man and it paid off on Thursday — the redshirt freshman passed for a career high 3 touchdowns with 129 yards on 15 attempts. The QB certainly got some help with some stellar plays by Carter and Brown, who combined for 102 yards in the game. QB-turned-WR Tobias Oliver got in on the action as well, recording his first career touchdown catch. Oliver has now recorded a touchdown pass, a rushing touchdown, and a touchdown catch in his career, the first Tech player to do so since TaQuon Marshall, who played for Tech from 2015 to 2018.
Harvin Goes Viral
The most important position on bad teams like the Jackets this year is the punter, and few have been better than Pressley Harvin III. Harvin currently ranks no. 6 in the NCAA in total punting yards, and no. 2 in the ACC behind Wake Forest’s Dom Maggio. Harvin got a good share of the spotlight Thursday when former NFL punter and current ESPN color commentator Pat McAffee began tweeting out clips of Harvin to his 1.65 million Twitter followers, proclaiming that “We got a BIG FELLA HITTING BIG BALLS” about the 6’0”, 245 lbs. Harvin. Harvin was previously named ACC specialist of the week in October for his performance against Miami, where he averaged 45.5 yards per punt on 6 punts and recorded a 41-yard touchdown pass on a trick play.