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NC State executes a steady burn in defeating Georgia Tech, 23-13

NCAA Football: North Carolina State at Syracuse Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

NC State football has been defined this year with winning—and that’s good, we’re all enjoying that part—but winning that comes at a frankly unnecessary emotional cost. I mean, we can live with it; we just didn’t ask for it.

On Saturday evening, NC State went and got into a bit of a scuffle with an underwhelming Georgia Tech team—but State also never trailed in this game, and the Yellow Jackets never mounted a truly serious threat on the outcome, so let’s be clear about the stakes here.

State scored the first-quarter’s only points on a Chris Dunn field goal, and this was a disjointed game for a good 20 minutes, as neither team could find much footing offensively.

In the second quarter, NC State went to work finally against a Yellow Jackets defense that was missing a number of key players, and that turned out the decisive frame in this one, as the Pack pushed a 3-0 well-who-knows on to a 20-7 we’re-probably-fine.

It takes a lot to calm yourself down about a theoretically comfortable lead when Bailey Hockman is you quarterback—listen, we’ve been burnt, we’ve been here this entire year, we know. But there were no big mistakes Saturday night from Hockman, who was positively Russell Wilson-esque in his throwaways.

NC State has been good at being both lucky and also finding exactly where its margins lie. On Saturday it was simply calculating, because the big mistakes were absent, and it could play a more straightforward game.

That works too.