Thursday, October 10, 2019

NC State Rides Dominating Defense to First Conference Win

RALEIGH – It was the beginning of fall break for NC State students, but the NC State defense didn’t get the memo according to their performance on Thursday night against Syracuse. A Wolfpack defense that was only allowing 71.8 yards rushing yards a game coming into this week’s matchup kept up their stingy ways, allowing only 41 yards on the night, including -5 in the first half, on the way to a 16-10 win over the visiting Orange in ACC primetime action.

Both teams came into the game with identical 3-2 records and looking for their first conference win. Being Atlantic Division rivals certainly added to the vibe of the game as these teams were facing off and the Wolfpack were looking for payback from a 51-41 Orange win in a shootout last season. A shootout was the opposite of how the game played out in the first half for the two teams, though, as they combined for six points over the first 28 minutes of play and only twenty-six overall.

The Wolfpack defense was stifling throughout the first half, but the State offense was unable to put enough distance between the two teams, settling for two Christopher Dunn field goals as the only points in the first quarter. NC State only reached the red zone once before getting possession back with two minutes left in the first half, but Coach Dave Doeren wanted to see his offense find some momentum before going into the locker room. Utilizing a little “trickeration”, Thayer Thomas found a wide-open Trent Pennix on a double pass and NC State opened took a 13-0 lead into the locker room.

The third quarter played out much the same way as the majority of the first half with NC State’s defense smothering the Syracuse offense and the Wolfpack offense sputtering and only seeing points with a Christopher Dunn field goal. The North Davidson product is now 13 of 16 on the season on field goals and a perfect 18 of 18 on extra points.

Syracuse finally got on the board with a field goal at the end of the third quarter but the Orange were unable to find any offensive momentum until late in the second half. A last gasp attempt to find the end zone was successful with three minutes left in the game as a series of defensive penalties, including a pass interference call in the end zone, gave the visitors a first-and-goal from the three-yard line. Tommy DeVito's pass to Trishton Jackson made it a six-point game and the Orange even had a chance to steal the victory at the end, but the clock was too much for the visitors to overcome.

On the offensive side of the ball, Emeka Emezie was targeted nine times and hauled in five passes for 77 yards. Zonovan “Bam” Knight led all Wolfpack rushers with 61 yards on fifteen carries. Defensively, Louis Acceus was all over the field for the home team, leading the team with fourteen tackles, including three sacks. The Pack finished with eight sacks on the night and routinely had Syracuse on their toes.

Notable North Carolinians
Christopher Dunn (North Davidson) – the sophomore place kicker was 3-3 on field goals on the night, accounting for 10 of the Wolfpack’s 16 points
Thayer Thomas (Heritage) – the redshirt sophomore caught two passes for 35 yards and threw for a score in the first half.
Moe Neal (Forestview) – on a night with litter offensive output by the entire team, the senior from Gastonia led his team in rushing yards and receptions.

Next Week
The Wolfpack (4-2, 1-1) travel to take on Boston College next Saturday for a third straight Atlantic Division showdown while Syracuse (3-3, 0-2) host Coastal Division foe Pitt on a Friday night.