Unnecessary drama, baby, you know you love it, and NC State football loves to give it to you. The Wolfpack let Syracuse hang around all night Thursday and then had to stave off a fourth-quarter rally by the Orange. And State did, just barely.
Syracuse scored with three minutes left to narrow the score to 16-10 in NC State’s favor, then got a three-and-out and got the ball back with a chance to win. Fortunately, the Orange were out of timeouts by this point, and most fittingly for the unendurable terribleness that was this contest, the proceedings ended on a 10-second runoff.
Syracuse moved the ball past midfield, but then the Pack defense came up with a huge sack on Tommy DeVito, and the Orange were called for a false start as they rushed to try to get off one more snap before time expired. And that was that.
It’s a relief, because no doubt losing that game would have been a major debacle for NC State, which controlled most of the action. Syracuse’s offense was stymied all night.
The Wolfpack really should have put the game out of reach in the first half, but stalled on a couple of drives deep into Syracuse territory in the first quarter, forcing the Pack to settle for two field goals.
It took a trick play—a lateral to Thayer Thomas, who then hit a wide open Trent Pennix on the opposite side of the field—to finally get State into the end zone and earn some breathing room at 13-0.
The vast majority of the time, NC State’s inefficiency tonight results in a loss, because how often is 16 points enough to win these days? Thankfully, tonight it was in fact enough. Just.
Bailey Hockman finished 16-27 for 205 yards and an interception—that was the lone turnover of the game—but the story throughout was the defense. They finished with eight sacks and held Syracuse to 41 yards rushing on 37 carries. Syracuse was one-dimensional from start to finish, and DeVito didn’t have enough big plays in him.
Little of what happened tonight was pleasant, but we’ll take it.