A huge first half performance from NC State running back Nyheim Hines propelled the NC State Wolfpack to a 28-10 lead over Arizona State at the half at the 2017 Hyundai Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
It didn’t take long for the postseason matchup to heat up.
After a nice gain on a screen pass during the second play of the game, ASU wideout Kyle Williams fumbled to gift NC State possession just minutes in.
Wolfpack quarterback Ryan Finley then connected with Stephen Louis for a 50-yard strike to put NC State on the 2-yard line. The Sun Devils managed three consecutive stops before the Wolfpack would attempt a fake field goal turned rushing attempt that fell just a yard short.
NC State dominated the first quarter statistically, including in time of possession. The Wolfpack held the ball for more than double the time ASU had it. NC State’s most impressive accomplishment early though was its 15 play, 87-yard touchdown drive that used nearly seven minutes of the clock.
The Wolfpack followed it up with a quick touchdown strike from Nyheim Hines — his second of the afternoon — just as the second quarter began to take a 14-0 lead.
Arizona State’s offense looked flat once again on its opening drive of the second period but was bailed out by a roughing the punter penalty. A couple solid runs from senior tailback Demario Richard set the Sun Devils up within 10 yards of the end zone but the Devils only managed a field goal — freshman Brandon Ruiz’s 19th of the season — to make it 14-3.
Hines struck one last time before the half on an impressive five yard run on which he broke three ASU tackles and found pay dirt for his third touchdown of the half. The score was set up by a 40-yard flea flicker from Finley to Louis, the receiver’s third long grab of the game.
The Sun Devils’ offense showed life just before the end of the half. Sophomore wideout N’Keal Harry made four receptions for 65 yards and a touchdown to cut the Arizona State deficit to 21-10 with just over two minutes remaining in the period.
Just as ASU had clawed its way back into the game, however, Todd Graham decided to attempt an onside kick and the Wolfpack recovered. As it had all throughout the first half, NC State quickly marched down the field and capped a one minute drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to extend its lead to 28-10.