The text message from Torry Holt to Nyheim Hines was part motivation, part history lesson.
N.C. State hasn’t always handled success well, especially after a big win over Florida State.
Holt, a Wolfpack receiver in the late 1990s with his No. 81 retired at Carter-Finley Stadium, wanted to make sure the junior running back knew that.
“What do you want people to remember you by?” Holt asked Hines.
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The answer, with Hines leading the way to a 33-25 home win over Syracuse on Saturday? This N.C. State team just might be different.
Hines ran for 115 yards and a fourth-quarter touchdown to make sure the Wolfpack (4-1, 2-0 ACC) avoided any letdown after the emotional win over Florida State.
It’s N.C. State’s first 2-0 ACC start in 11 years and only second ACC win, the week after beating Florida State, in seven tries.
“We really talked about how history doesn’t need to repeat itself,” Hines said. “Everything we did today was to make sure it didn’t.”
With an unbelievable effort from Holt, N.C. State shocked Florida State, the No. 2 team in the country, at Carter-Finley Stadium on Sept. 12, 1998. The next week, the Wolfpack lost at Baylor, 33-30.
And that wasn’t the vintage 2010s juggernaut Baylor program racking up double-digit wins and Big 12 titles. That was a 2-9 Baylor team, coached by the immortal Dave Roberts, which finished the ’98 season with only one other win – 31-24 over an equally terrible Kansas program.
The last N.C. State team to start 2-0 in 2006 beat No. 17 Florida State on Oct. 5, 24-20 in Raleigh, then lost the next week at home to Wake Forest and the next six games. Coach Chuck Amato was fired after a 3-9 season.
Current N.C. State coach Dave Doeren hammered a similar message to Holt’s home to his players this week in hopes of avoiding a letdown.
“If you want to be who you say you want to be, and be in a real conversation, you’ve got to win this week,” Doeren said.
That conversation is the Atlantic Division race. With a dangerous Louisville team up next (on Thursday), and a November home date with powerful Clemson, N.C. State can’t afford any slip-ups against the likes of Syracuse (2-3, 0-1).
The way the game started, with N.C. State jumping out to a 26-7 lead, it didn’t appear the Orange would be a problem.
But quarterback Eric Dungey (385 passing yards) engineered a quick touchdown drive to open the third quarter, backup kicker Sterling Hofrichter added a 38-yard field goal and N.C. State’s offense stalled out.
“I thought we played a great first half, a really bad third quarter and we finished them in the fourth quarter,” Doeren said.
Hines’ 1-yard touchdown run at 9:52 put N.C. State up 33-17. Dungey found receiver Steve Ishmael for 10-yard touchdown with 4:39 left – and then ran for the 2-point conversion – to make it 33-25.
N.C. State’s offense, which finished with a 265-59 advantage on the ground, was able to get two first downs to milk the clock.
Hines, who had 94 yards in last week’s win at FSU, posted his first career 100-yard game on 19 carries. Jaylen Samuels added 74 yards (and a 16-yard TD run) on nine carries.
The line gave the credit to the backs and the backs the credit to the line.
“It was the line,” Hines said. “They blocked the right guys, and I just try to make one guy miss. We do that and good things will happen.”
In the last two weeks, Hines has shown he’s a capable replacement for Matt Dayes, last year’s 1,000-yard rusher who’s now in the NFL.
“We know how good Nyheim is,” senior guard Tony Adams said. “He can always make plays, regardless of anything, because he’s so fast. He’s a great guy to block for, too. Nyheim is just one of those guys you love. We love him death.”
Hines smiled when he realized it was his first 100-yard game. He expects another text from Holt this week. Hines could fire one back with a little friendly trash talk about how to handle a win over Florida State.
“Nah, I can’t do that,” Hines said.
There’s no time for that yet, anyway. The legacy of Hines, and this N.C. State team, is still unwritten.
Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio