NC State upends No. 21 Liberty on late blocked FG

Zonovan Knight scored on a pair of touchdown runs and North Carolina State used a late blocked field goal to pull out a 15-14 victory and end No. 21 Liberty’s bid for an undefeated season Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C.

N.C. State’s Vi Jones blocked a 39-yard field goal attempt from Alex Barbir with 1:18 remaining to preserve the lead. Knight tallied the go-ahead score on a 4-yard play with 6:53 remaining in the game.

Liberty (8-1), which was trying to conquer its third Atlantic Coast Conference opponent of the season, had a 10-game winning streak dating to last season. The Flames ended one victory shy of tying the school record.

The Flames began the potential winning drive on their own 8-yard line.

Liberty quarterback Malik Willis was 13-for-32 for 172 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions.

Knight rushed for 96 yards on 14 carries.

Bailey Hockman was 14-for-27 for 154 yards and one interception for the Wolfpack (6-3), who were playing their lone nonconference game of the season. N.C. State is 2-3 vs. ranked opponents this year.

State freshman Aydan White made his first career interception on a diving pick to give the Wolfpack the ball at the Liberty 26-yard line in the fourth quarter. The Wolfpack converted, including a third-down pick-up on Hockman’s scramble, en route to taking the lead for the first time in the second half.

After Knight’s run put N.C. State on top, a two-point conversion play failed.

N.C. State was held to 110 yards of total offense in the second half after posting 210 in the first half. The Wolfpack overcame a season-high 123 penalty yards.

Liberty went up 14-7 before N.C. State’s first points of the second half came on a safety. Linebacker Isaiah Moore made a tackle of running back Peytton Pickett in the end zone on Liberty’s first snap after a punt pinned the Flames at their own 3-yard line.

It was N.C. State’s first safety in 10 years.

Willis was 4-for-13 through the air in the first half, but his 12-yard toss to Noah Frith with 19 seconds remaining before halftime allowed the Flames to pull even.

Liberty maintained the momentum by taking the lead in the third quarter on Willis’ 6-yard pass to Jerome Jackson.

Knight opened the scoring on a 19-yard run in the second quarter.

Willis had gone the previous four games without throwing an interception.