Left and right, inside and outside.

Three and four-yard runs turned into devastating 15-yard touchdowns.

In the third quarter, NC State's offensive line was able to take over the line of scrimmage and eventually the Bitcoin St. Petersburg Bowl.

"They just kept running the ball," senior linebacker Troy Gray said. "They had big plays and we just couldn't stop it."


UCF defeated by NC State 34-27 in St.Pete Bowl

Despite a spirited fourth-quarter comeback by UCF, the Knights couldn't overcome the third quarter and lost 34-27.

Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett rode a hot hand into halftime, and in the second he resorted to turning and handing the ball off to his skilled tailbacks. In the third quarter alone, the NC State running game tallied 17 carries for 127 yards and two touchdowns. A seven-point first half deficit for UCF had ballooned to 18 by the time the fourth quarter had started.

"I give credit for NC State for making plays, and us for missing way too many tackles on defense," head coach George O'Leary said.

The running backs weren't the only ones slipping tackles, as Brissett himself often hurt the Knights with his ability to extend plays.

Brissett, the game's MVP, had his way with the Knights. He dipped away from defenders and shrugged off pass rushers. Whether he was on the run or in the pocket under duress, he was able to make the Knights by completing 15-of-26 passes for 262 yards passing and a touchdown. The redshirt junior who transferred from Florida added 31 rushing yards.

"The defense was getting very frustrated over it," O'Leary said. "They had him corralled in a phone booth and he kept making one guy miss and then outrunning some other people."

The Wolfpack gouged UCF for 187 yards on the ground and nearly 500 yards of total offense.

Offensively, UCF struggled to capitalize on opportunities or make plays in many of the situations in which they needed them.

For much of the night the ball was placed in the hands of Justin Holman, who couldn't find a rhythm or many clear-throwing lanes. Overall the sophomore quarterback finished 23-for-53 for 291 yards, three touchdowns but also a costly fourth-quarter interception.

One of the lone bright spots offensively was UCF's bowl MVP Josh Reese, who caught six passes for 75 yards and a St. Pete bowl record three touchdowns.

Unfortunately for UCF, Reese's big night wasn't enough.

"We struggled running the ball, we struggled protecting with our linemen and we had a couple of drops," said Breshad Perriman, who caught a game-high nine passes. "Maybe one too many."