NC State came into their Thursday night matchup against Syracuse seeking their first ACC win with a new QB and new questions. Could they improve production in the red zone? How will the team adjust to a new quarterback? Will they respond after their bye week against a division foe? While not all of these questions were answered, under the lights on Thursday night, the NC State defense left no doubt that during a time of offensive uncertainty they’re the winning catalyst for this squad.
The Wolfpack held the Orange to only 41 yards on the ground, scoreless for the first two quarters and sacked quarterback Tommy DeVito 8 times – including one that ended Syracuse’s comeback hopes with 23 seconds left on the clock. It was a performance that defensive tackle Larrell Murchison said came down to discipline.
“We just stayed discipline and that’s our word every week. We kept discipline. We knew that time was running out and they were going to try and score, so we just had to play our best ball. And that’s how we called game.”
“When it’s a close game like that,” linebacker Isaiah Moore added, “as a defense we all got tighter. I think that’s a bond we have on the defense. If it’s on us, it’s on us and that’s how we want it. We feel like we can shoulder it.”
Redshirt sophomore quarterback Bailey Hockman, in his first start this season, finished 16-27 from the field for 205 yards and one interception in a performance Coach Doeren said he’ll learn from.
“He did some good things. He’s got to learn what to do when things aren’t there. He took some sacks when he didn’t get rid of the ball and was trying to do too much. He made some great passes. I thought he directed things well. He took care of the football for the most part. He’ll learn from this game. Syracuse has a good defensive line. That made it tough when he didn’t have the time to go through progressions, but I thought he battled.”
After losing both of their games against Power 5 teams, the Wolfpack are just glad to have a win under their belt and hopefully start a trend.
“It’s huge,” Moore said. “I think it’s a big confidence boost for our team. We have six games left on the schedule – all conference games. Our ultimate goal is always an ACC Championship. I think we still fell like that’s achievable and this is the first step.”