Notebook: NC State Converted Third Downs; Hokies Didn’t

Keonta Jenkins and the Hokies struggled to stop NC State and Brennan Armstrong on Saturday, especially on third down. (Jon Fleming)

Virginia Tech forcing punts on the first two NC State possessions didn’t seem impressive at the beginning of Saturday’s game, but by the time the third quarter ended, that felt more like an outlier than the norm.

The Hokies (5-6, 4-3 ACC) were worn down over the course of 60 minutes and couldn’t hang with the Wolfpack (8-3, 5-2) in the 35-28 loss, a result that the statistics made seem closer than it actually was. It was a poor performance against a better team, an outcome many have come to expect this season.

It was how it happened that was most curious, though. After a scoreless and extremely slow first quarter, one that featured 94 combined yards on 27 plays between the two sides, a switch flipped for NC State offensively, which Tech couldn’t match.

Brennan Armstrong, Kevin Concepcion and the Wolfpack struck first with 12:09 to play in the second quarter, capping off a 7-play, 64-yard drive that was helped by a Tech pass interference call on Derrick Canteen. That’s when the tide started to turn — along with the PI, the Hokies allowed two completions of 16 and 21 yards.