For Dave Doeren, the drought is finally over. His career began with 12 consecutive losses in ACC games, but that losing streak is behind him after NC State's come-from-behind 24-17 victory over Syracuse on Saturday afternoon.
Two big defensive plays in the second half meant the difference for the Wolfpack. The first came with Syracuse ahead 14-9 and driving for more--AJ Long made a bad read on a throw over the middle and was intercepted by Pharoah McKever, who took it to the house with a little help from his teammates.
State's offense continued sputtering after McKever's score and a successful two-point try gave the Pack a 17-14 edge; fortunately, Syracuse's offense really wasn't any better, and more importantly, it was the Orange that had the big miscues.
By the time State forced a Long fumble inside the Syracuse 40 with about four minutes left, they could start to smell it. The offense took advantage of the pristine field position with a scoring drive that was capped by a Shadrach Thornton touchdown pass to make it 24-14.
That touchdown proved more important than anybody would have liked since Syracuse was able to put together a field goal drive and then recovered the ensuing onside kick with 13 seconds left. Thankfully, the drama ended there.
State led 9-0 at one point in the opening half but should have had more points to show for its effort. That left the door open for Syracuse, which gladly walked on through by scoring two unanswered touchdowns (well, one legitimate unanswered touchdown, and one not so much). The Wolfpack offense, and more specifically, Jacoby Brissett, looked out of sorts for most of the day, and it was beginning to feel like the game was slipping away.
And how could it not feel that way--it's what had become typical for this team in close games. When McKever stepped into that Long pass, however, there was tangible reason to believe this time it'd be different. Despite some late shenanigans, it was.