What a different an extra week of practice makes for N.C. State.
The Wolfpack relied on its defense and a trick play to beat Syracuse 16-10 on Thursday night.
N.C. State (4-2, 1-1 ACC) bounced back after opening ACC play with a 31-13 loss at Florida State on Sept. 28. With some extra time off, N.C. State fine-tuned its defense and sacked Orange (3-3, 0-2) quarterback Tommy DeVito eight times.
“The defensive staff, I thought, really put together a great game plan.” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “Then the kids executed it well.”
N.C. State got three field goals from Chris Dunn and 32-yard touchdown catch by running back Trent Pennix.
Syracuse had one last chance to win the game, after its defense got a stop and the ball back with 1:48 left in the game. DeVito, who finished with 300 yards, completed his first four passes of the drive but the Orange didn’t have any timeouts. A pair of false start penalties, which included a 10-second run-off on the clock, stalled the drive.
Larrell Murchison’s sack ended up being the final play to seal the win for the Wolfpack.
N.C. State’s offense struggled to get much going. Sophomore quarterback Bailey Hockman (16 of 27, 205 yards) started the game, after sophomore Matt McKay started the first five games, and he completed 16 of 27 passes for 205 yards with an interception.
Freshman Devin Leary came in for one series in the second quarter (1 of 3, 23 yards) but didn’t play in the second half. It was receiver Thayer Thomas who threw the touchdown pass to Pennix.
Thomas caught a pass from Hockman, a yard behind the line of scrimmage near the N.C. State sideline, and then hit Pennix down the opposite sideline for its only touchdown.
Thomas said N.C. State added the trick play after Duke used it effectively earlier this season in a win at Virginia Tech.
“t was exact same play,” Thomas said. “So we knew it was gonna work. We did it a lot in practice. We had a feeling that was going to work.”
Doeren said Hockman did some good things but needed to work on some of his decision-making.
“We obviously were able to complete some passes and score enough points to win,” Doeren said. “At the end of the day, that’s what counts and that’s what matters.”
Linebacker Louis Acceus had 14 tackles and three sacks to lead N.C. State’s defense.
“That’s awesome for a kid from New York to go play like that against Syracuse,” Doeren said.
Thomas has completed two passes this season both have been touchdowns. He had an 18-yard TD pass to tight end Cary Angeline at West Virginia on Sept. 14.
“Hopefully we don’t have to do that a lot more,” Thomas said. “I thought we just needed that as a spark because the offense, we weren’t doing what we needed to do.”
Doeren called timeout with 18 seconds left in the first half. On the next play, Syracuse had a 52-yard pass play to move into N.C. State territory. Andre Szmyt missed a 44-yard field goal on the last play of the half.
N.C. State cornerback Chris Ingram got hurt on the last drive of the first half. N.C. State was already missing injured corners Nick McCloud and Taiyon Palmer.
5 Sacks in the first half for N.C. State’s defense.
-5 The Orange had 19 rushing attempts for minus-5 yards in the first half. They finished with 41 yards on 37 carries.