Once Shawn Boone gets his hands on the ball, you can forget it.
The N.C. State senior safety is not going to give it up, even after the game.
Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren gave Boone the game ball from N.C. State’s 49-16 win over Furman on Saturday.
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Boone’s 47-yard interception return for a touchdown was one of many highlights for the Wolfpack in its 30th straight win over a Division I-AA, or Football Championship Subdivision, team.
There would be no repeat of Furman’s twin upsets in Raleigh from the early 1980s, not with Jaylen Samuels scoring three times, Nyheim Hines leading a 242-yard effort on the ground and the defense forcing three turnovers.
N.C. State’s second straight double-digit win ends the warmup portion of the schedule with eight ACC games, and partial ACC member Notre Dame, the only games left.
The Wolfpack (2-1) travels to Florida State next Saturday. Actually, the home loss to the Seminoles last year played a role in Boone’s performance against the Paladins.
Boone dropped an interception in the end zone against FSU last year with N.C. State ahead 20-17 and 3:16 left in the game. On the next play, FSU receiver Travis Rudolph beat Boone for the go-ahead touchdown. Nary a practice or game has gone by since without Boone thinking back to what was in his hands.
So there’s a reason, even in his postgame interviews on Saturday, he wasn’t giving the ball up.
“That’s what drives me,” Boone said. “That (FSU) game and not letting things like that happen.”
Late in the third quarter on Saturday, when Furman quarterback P.J. Blazejowski was pressured by N.C. State defensive end Darian Roseboro and hurried a screen pass, Boone didn’t let the chance slip through his fingers.
His first thought when Justin Jones tipped Blazejowski’s pass and there was an open field in front of him from midfield wasn’t about the end zone.
“First, catch the ball and look it all the way in,” Boone said. “That’s something I’ve been working on … a lot.”
Boone caught the ball in traffic and then raced to the end zone – the same one where he dropped FSU quarterback Deondre Francois’ pass last November. It was the first interception of his career, a “pick six” no less, and first time in the end zone since he was a freshman in high school.
It has been an eventful week for Boone. Part of the roof at his family’s house in south Florida was knocked in by Hurricane Irma. His parents, Veronica and Shawn, were going to leave Palm Beach Gardens but decided to ride out the storm.
He was worried about their safety and the condition of the house, but he said his parents assured the family was safe.
“They told me not to worry so I could come out and do my thing,” Boone said.
Defensive end Bradley Chubb gets most of the attention for N.C. State’s defense, but Boone might be the Wolfpack’s most important player. With cornerback Mike Stevens injured, Boone is the only veteran in N.C. State’s secondary.
South Carolina and Marshall picked on N.C. State’s young secondary. Furman was able to hit two big plays on Saturday.
“With all their misdirection, we lost our ‘eyes’ twice in the secondary,” Doeren said.
The first lapse, a 71-yard touchdown by tight end Andy Schumpert on a busted coverage, cut N.C. State’s lead to 21-13 at 2:35 in the second quarter.
Furman didn’t score another touchdown, but Boone did. His pick six made it 42-13 at 3:52 in the third quarter and really ended any doubt about the outcome.
No one was happier for Boone than Chubb.
“After that (FSU) game last year, he told me that would never happen again,” Chubb said. “This is proof he won’t drop another interception.”
Boone wasn’t about to give up that game ball, either, at least not yet.
“As soon as I see my mom next week, I’m going to carry it with me and give it to her,” Boone said.
First interception, first game ball. Now Boone gets his second shot at Florida State.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio