RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Wyatt Sexton got knocked down time
and time again. When he did stay on his feet, his passes rarely
found their target.

Still, his team won, thanks to a defense every bit as stingy as
the one on the other side of the field.

“I love ‘em, that’s all I can say,”
Sexton said of his defensive teammates.

Lorenzo Booker and James Coleman each ran for third-quarter
touchdowns, helping No. 11 Florida State rally past N.C. State
17-10 last night in a game that featured 22 punts, four turnovers
and less than 250 yards of combined offense.

Last season, these two teams went to double overtime before the
Seminoles prevailed 50-44. It seems a lot longer than a year ago in
a lot of ways.

“It was a defensive war from the very beginning,”
Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said. “I hadn’t seen a
defensive battle like that in a long time. Totally
dominating.’ ”

Florida State (6-2 ACC, 8-2 overall) went deep into the second
quarter before its yardage total exceeded the number of plays.
Sexton finished 5-for-18 for only 73 yards, and leading rusher Leon
Washington was held to 56 yards on 18 carries after missing the
previous two games with a shoulder injury.

The only thing that kept Sexton on the field was an injury to
backup Chris Rix, who had a sore ankle and likely would have had a
tough time evading the pressure from N.C. State.

“If Chris had his wheels, I probably definitely would have
changed quarterbacks,” Bowden said. “Because we were
getting sacked so much, I feel like we’ve got to have a
quarterback that move around.”

Still, it was enough. The lone touchdown for the Wolfpack (3-5,
4-6) came on Darrell Blackman’s 87-yard punt return in the
second quarter that gave them a 10-0 lead. But even though they
rotated quarterbacks, they couldn’t generate much offense
after halftime.

They had only one first down — fittingly, on a pass
interference penalty — and 26 yards in the final two periods.
Jay Davis and Marcus Stone were a combined 9-for-25 for 100 yards
as former N.C. State star quarterback Philip Rivers watched from
the sidelines.

Boston Red Sox outfielder Trot Nixon, whose wife attended N.C.
State, joined Rivers, but even he couldn’t provide the
necessary karma to help the Wolfpack. They won’t be going to
a bowl for the first time in five seasons under coach Chuck
Amato.

“Things happen for a reason, and we’ll learn from
this and improve,” he said. “I’m proud of our
kids for being in that game and being in a position to win at the
end.”

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