The overall inefficiency that has plagued NC State football struck again on Saturday, but the Wolfpack was just better than any of the setbacks that came of it. NC State scored three second-half touchdowns to beat Syracuse, 35-20.
The decisive exchange in this one was the Wolfpack’s brilliant 14-play, 86 yard touchdown drive that burned away the majority of the third quarter. After an exchange of big touchdown passes, after enduring a blocked punt, NC State’s answer with a long, long drive cannot be understated.
It was one of the drives of the season, and State converted multiple third-downs to extend it. There we can happily thank Syracuse’s poor defense, but we also shouldn’t confuse that with the good execution on NC State’s end. Somehow it just worked.
And Matt Dayes got very close to the 1,000-yard mark with his effort this afternoon. State wisely put it in his hands a lot, and he finished with 103 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Jaylen Samuels had a big afternoon as well despite an ankle injury, converting a key third down and also scoring a touchdown.
Kelvin Harmon and Bra’Lon Cherry were crucial parts in the passing game, which is exactly what NC State needs and has needed all year. The Pack got big plays from both of them, and they helped to turn this game, which for a while was looking like another missed opportunity.
At 5-5 now, NC State has to find one more win to get bowl eligible, and if this team can forget about the last month and focus on what they did well Saturday, there’s a good chance they get there.