If revenge is indeed a dish best served cold, then former UVA quarterback Brennan Armstrong is feasting on it in Raleigh.
Armstrong and #22 NC State pounded rival North Carolina 39-20 last night in Carter-Finley Stadium in a game that the Wolfpack was certainly prepared for.
State, bolting out to a 26-7 halftime lead, never backed off the throttle in defeating their main rival for the sixth time in eight games.
The NC State offense, led by the former Virginia offensive coordinator, Robert Anae, flat-out steamrolled the UNC defense.
The Wolfpack, which won its fifth straight, scored on its first eight possessions – four field goals, four touchdowns, to build a 39-14 lead.
Armstrong, the record-setting quarterback at UVA two years ago, transferred to State after a disastrous 2022 season with UVA first-year coach Tony Elliott, in which he was expected to operate in a completely different offensive scheme than the one that had produced those record-breaking numbers in Charlottesville.
NC State made sure Carolina wasn’t going to do any celebrating on its field, and they made it clear early, jumping on the Tar Heels from the opening kick.
Last season, State celebrated a double-overtime victory by planting a flag at midfield in Chapel Hill, a move that was referenced throughout the week by Tar Heel players, who promised to do the same if they had the opportunity.
By scoring the game’s first 23 points, the Wolfpack promptly ended that notion early.
Now back to Armstrong.
The young man came to Raleigh replacing former Wolfpack signal-caller Devin Leary, who transferred to Kentucky, which just finished a 7-5 season with a win over Louisville on Saturday.
Armstrong lost his starting job earlier in the season before getting it back when starter MJ Morris opted for free agency….err….redshirt, ending his NC State career in style.
After not throwing in practice all week due to a rib injury, Armstrong torched the UNC secondary, throwing for three touchdowns and 334 yards.
UNC coach Mack Brown took special notice of Armstrong’s night, saying, “He hit everybody, they were open, and he (Armstrong) made some great throws. It’s hard for a kid to get benched and come back and do what he’s done. That kid’s really a tough kid and confident kid, and he did a tremendous job.”
Last week, against Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Armstrong, who had never won there as a Cavalier, helped the Wolfpack end a 19-year drought in Lane Stadium with a 35-28 win over the Hokies.
NC State piled up over 400 yards in total offense, with Armstrong leading the way, throwing for two touchdowns while running for two more.
An amazing end for Armstrong, who could have folded the tent after having the rug pulled from under him in his one year under the Elliott system at UVA.
All he did was beat his once in-state rival Tech on its home field and then led the Wolfpack to a stomping of their bitter rival North Carolina.
And in the process, reviving his once-promising NFL hopes with back-to-back impressive performances in pressure games.
The NFL scouts notice those things.
While the Armstrong-Elliott relationship never got off the ground, the opposite was to be found in Raleigh under the leadership of veteran NC State coach Dave Doeren, who is one of the best under-the-radar head coaches in the nation.
“Our team has always embraced Brennan, the way he has handled his journey, his adventure in college football has been amazing, he’s a winner,” said Doeren.
Instead of pouting after being benched in early October Armstrong found ways to be of help to the Wolfpack offense, coming in to provide blocking help or as a running back. He never became disengaged from his team.
After the win over UNC, Armstrong talked about his performance despite the rib injury.
“It was momentum, our mindset going in was to hit them in the mouth and keep hitting them, we got points every time we got in scoring position, and it was rivalry week, that alone got everyone fired up,” said Armstrong.
Things may have been a lot different last night for Virginia against rival Virginia Tech if Armstrong was still setting records for wearing a UVA uniform.
For that matter, the last two seasons in Charlottesville may have been a lot different.
Instead, Armstrong was the round peg being forced into a square hole.
Fortunately, in the end things worked out well for Armstrong.