But there were also plenty of reasons for concern — 16 of them, in fact. That’s how many years in a row NC State had tried, and failed, to beat Duke (there were two ties during that span). The last time NC State had beaten Duke was 1946, 17 years earlier.
But on this day in 1963, the Wolfpack finally came out on top. And the Pack did it in decisive fashion, winning 21-7 to tie its largest margin of victory ever against Duke up to that point.
“DOOK DRUBBED: State Gives Devils Hell After Seventeen Years,” read the headline at the top of the front page of the Technician.
The win was led by a backfield known as “The Mafia” (which was later chosen by BleacherReport.com as one of the 12 greatest college football nicknames of all time) that included Tony Koszarsky, Jim Rossi and Joe Scarpati.
Koszarsky scored the game’s first touchdown following a 55-yard run by halfback Mike Clark. Rossi set up the second touchdown with a 55-yard run of his own to the Duke 29-yard line, and then threw a touchdown pass to Scarpati three plays later.
Duke, which had been stymied by what the Agromeck described as “State’s fierce defense,” crawled back into the game with a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
But NC State’s Don Montgomery sealed the win when he intercepted a Duke lateral just 10 yards from the goal line and ran it in for a touchdown.
The win was a relief for the team and its fans. A cartoon wolf in the Technician sporting a shirt with the final score, 21-7, said what many State fans may have felt: “I simply can’t believe it.”
Presumably, they believed by the end of the season. The Wolfpack went 6-1 in conference play that year (8-3 overall) and were co-champions of the ACC.