N.C. State Football Takeaways: Pack Squeezes Past Orange

RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 10: Alim McNeill #29 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack hits Abdul Adams #23 of the Syracuse Orange during their game at Carter Finley Stadium on October 10, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA - OCTOBER 10: Alim McNeill #29 of the North Carolina State Wolfpack hits Abdul Adams #23 of the Syracuse Orange during their game at Carter Finley Stadium on October 10, 2019 in Raleigh, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) /

The Wolfpack staves off Syracuse’s second-half rally, managing to pick up its first conference win of the season.

With its back against the wall, N.C. State (4-2, 1-1 ACC) held off a last-minute push from Syracuse (3-3, 0-2 ACC) to win under the lights at Carter-Finley Stadium Thursday evening, 16-10.

Quick Notes

  • The Wolfpack tallied eight sacks against the Orange. Combined with the eight sacks against Florida State in the previous game, State set the school record for sacks in back-to-back games. The previous record was set in 1982 where the Pack compiled 14 total sacks against Virginia and North Carolina.
  • Redshirt sophomore wide receiver Thayer Thomas threw his second touchdown pass of the season with a 32-yard strike to redshirt freshman running back Trent Pennix. With that score, Thomas became the first wide receiver in school history to throw for more than one touchdown pass in a season since Bryan Peterson threw two in 2000.
  • After seeing action in four of the first five games of the season, redshirt sophomore quarterback Bailey Hockman got the call to start Thursday night’s game against Syracuse. Hockman became the first left-handed quarterback to start for the Wolfpack since Cam Young’s start against Virginia on Nov. 8, 1986.
  • The Pack finished perfect in the red zone, scoring field goals in both opportunities inside the Orange 20-yard line. N.C. State is now 24-for-25 on the year in the red zone with 14 touchdowns, 10 rushing and four passing, and 10 field goals. The only scoreless red-zone opportunity for the Wolfpack came against Florida State when the drive ended in a fumble.
  • State’s rushing defense, ranked the sixth-best in the NCAA, managed to hold Syracuse’s runners to just 41 yards on the ground. The Pack has now held its last three opponents, and five of its last six, to under 100 yards.

Scoring Summary

More from Old North Banter

  • After forcing a punt on Syracuse’s opening drive, N.C. State started its first drive from its own 42. The Pack then drove down the field to the Orange 15 before sophomore placekicker Christopher Dunn booted a 32-yard field goal for the game’s first score.
  • The next Orange series once again stalled out, forcing a punt. After a 10-play drive that put the Pack on the Syracuse 27, Dunn was once again called upon to deliver, connecting on a 43-yard field goal.
  • The two teams traded punts consistently until the Wolfpack’s final drive of the first half. On a three-play drive that spanned 61 yards, State finally entered the end zone on Thomas’ 32-yard pass to Pennix. After icing the Orange kicker to force a missed 43-yard field goal, the Pack entered halftime with the lead, 13-0.
  • The Pack’s first drive of the second half ended with an interception, but after forcing another punt, State drove 69 yards down the field on a 14-play drive that stalled at the Syracuse 6. Dunn came back out to end the drive with another three points as his 23-yard field goal sailed through the uprights.
  • The Orange managed to answer on the following drive, marching 61 yards downfield on 10 plays. Syracuse ended up on the Wolfpack’s 14 before scoring on a 32-yard field goal from Andre Szymt.
  • After a Syracuse turnover-on-downs sandwiched between two State drives that ended in punts, the Orange found the end zone with three minutes left in regulation after pushing 90 yards down the field on 13 plays. Tommy DeVito capped off the drive with a two-yard strike to Trishton Jackson to bring Syracuse to within a touchdown. However, the game-ending drive for the Orange fell short due to a penalty-induced clock runoff.


  • The Wolfpack has been absolutely merciless when it comes to attacking the quarterback. As mentioned before, State got to DeVito eight times and dropped him for a total loss of 52 yards. Junior linebacker Louis Acceus accounted for three sacks for 30 yards by himself, including when the Spring Valley, N.Y. native sacked DeVito on back-to-back plays for 12 and 15 yards respectively on a second-quarter Syracuse drive that ended with a punt. Graduate student defensive tackle Larrell Murchison joined in on the fun with two sacks of his own for nine yards.
  • Both teams combined for 600 yards on punting. Out of 23 total drives between the two teams, 13 of them ended with punts. Between Dunn’s 43-yard field goal and the Thomas-Pennix connection, seven straight drives ended with either Sterling Hofrichter or Trenton Gill showing off their kicking prowess. Whether it’s a testament to both teams’ respective defenses or how lackluster their respective offenses are, the game was a slog to watch with that much punting.
  • Hockman has been improving since the Florida State game, but he still needs some improving. He completed 16 of 27 pass attempts for 205 yards with one interception and no touchdowns. It’s nothing to scoff at, but considering the only passing touchdown for the Wolfpack came from a wide receiver, it’s clear that the Pack’s quarterback play is still subpar within the scope of the ACC.
  • Syracuse committed 12 penalties for 59 yards while State just committed four for 47 yards. The Wolfpack’s been one of the more disciplined teams in the conference under Dave Doeren, and that discrepancy of yellow flags in this game is indicative of that. The Pack’s defense also baited some of the penalties, including back-to-back false start calls on the Orange’s penultimate drive in the fourth quarter.