'Worse than embarrassed'
N.C. State defense torched by high-flying Miami
Posted: Wednesday December 30, 1998 12:55 AM
MIAMI (AP) -- North Carolina State's high-powered offense couldn't come close to rescuing its porous defense this time.
Wolfpack coach Mike O'Cain swallowed hard when No. 24 Miami took the opening kickoff and marched for a score with relative ease in Tuesday night's Micron PC Bowl.
"I was worried," O'Cain said of the opening 71-yard drive. "Then, when they did it the second time, I was even more worried, and then a third time more than that. We just weren't flying around. That has a lot to do with them. They attack you."
It turned out that O'Cain's early concerns were well placed.
"What I was afraid might happen," O'Cain said when asked about his defense against Miami's offense. "They ran inside of our ends, inside of our tackles, just about anywhere they wanted to."
After all, this was a team that ran up 689 yards in its regular-season finale against national title contender UCLA. And this was a North Carolina State defense that had surrendered an average of 31 points in its last four games.
Bad mix for the Wolfpack, who gave up 594 yards to the Hurricanes -- third worst in school history in the poorest tackling effort of the season.
"If there is a word that is worse than embarrassed, I'm sure that's the way everybody on defense feels," said defensive back Tony Scott. "I can't describe the way I'm feeling right now. I know we're a way better football team."
N.C. State's defensive endeavor was a disaster from start to finish in the program's first postseason game since the 1995 Peach Bowl. The Wolfpack allowed 342 yards in the first half alone with 11 plays of 10 or more yards.
Santana Moss' 80-yard TD reception was the longest allowed this year by the N.C. State secondary, which finished third in the nation with 19 interceptions, but was burned for 250 yards through the air in the opening 30 minutes.
The Hurricanes drove into Wolfpack territory on their first seven possessions and N.C. State didn't come close to sacking Miami quarterback Scott Covington.
Defense wasn't N.C. State's only misfortune in this one. For example:
-- Walk-on place-kicker Dan Deskevich, who was perfect on 12 field goal attempts during the regular season, missed a 30-yarder wide right early in the second quarter when the game was still in question.
-- The Wolfpack was driving for a score seconds before halftime when Jamie Barnette's pass attempt over the middle nailed Conference USA umpire Jim Ina in the head. The ball ricocheted into the arms of Miami defensive lineman Matt Sweeney.
-- Two key players were lost to injury in the opening half. Defensive lineman Rashad Streets re-injured his ankle early in the second quarter and didn't return. ACC rookie of the year Ray Robinson broke his right forearm 3:27 before halftime on a pass play.
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