Nov 20, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack wide receiver Emeka Emezie (86) goes up for a pass against Syracuse Orange defensive back Darian Chestnut (20) during the first half at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 NC State smothers Syracuse, 41-17

Devin Leary threw for 303 yards and two touchdowns, and No. 20 NC State’s defense took care of the rest in the Wolfpack’s 41-17 victory over visiting Syracuse in an Atlantic Coast Conference game on Saturday in Raleigh, N.C.

Leary went 17-of-24 passing and found nine different receivers, led by Thayer Thomas, who had four receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown, and Christopher Toudle, who had 35 yards and a touchdown on four catches.

Ricky Person rushed for 50 yards and a score on 12 carries as the Wolfpack (8-3, 5-2 ACC) amassed 399 yards of total offense.

Syracuse quarterback Garrett Shrader struggled against the Wolfpack defense, as he went just 8-for-20 passing for 63 yards and an interception, in addition to being sacked five times. Sean Tucker, who rushed for 105 yards and a score on 13 carries, was the lone bright spot for the Orange (5-6, 2-5), who were held to 236 yards of total offense.

After a scoreless first quarter, Person’s 15-yard touchdown run capped a four-play, 75-yard drive that gave the Wolfpack a 7-0 lead with 6:14 left in the quarter. NC State doubled its lead less than a minute later, when linebacker Drake Thomas stepped in front of Shrader’s pass and returned it 38 yards for a touchdown with 5:25 left in the half.

Syracuse trimmed the lead to 14-7 when Tucker raced 55 yards into the end zone to cap a four-play, 65-yard drive with 3:16 left. However, NC State regained its two-touchdown lead 15 seconds later when Zonovan Knight returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a score with 3:01 left in the quarter.

NC State extended its lead to 28-7 when Leary threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Toudle with eight seconds left in the first half.

The Wolfpack pushed their lead to 31-7 on Chris Dunn’s 37-yard field goal less than five minutes into the second half before Syracuse countered with Andre Szmyt’s 45-yard field goal with 6:41 left in the quarter.

Leary extended the lead to 38-10 with an eight-yard touchdown strike to Thomas that capped an eight-play, 65-yard drive with 2:15 left in the third quarter.

Shrader pulled the Orange to within 38-17 on a 48-yard run with 8:45 remaining in the game before NC State capped the scoring on Dunn’s 21-yard field goal with less than four minutes left.

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; A North Carolina State Wolfpack helmet seen on the sideline during the second half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 20 NC State, still eying ACC title, hosts bowl-hungry Syracuse

Only four points separate No. 20 North Carolina State from being unbeaten in ACC play and in position for a berth in the title game.

After a missed opportunity at making the ACC’s Atlantic Division tighter, the Wolfpack look to rebound from a tough loss to division leader Wake Forest Saturday afternoon when they host ACC Atlantic division-mate Syracuse.

NC State (7-3, 4-2 ACC) begins this week in third place behind unbeaten Wake Forest and second-place Clemson. The Wolfpack went 6-1 in a seven-game stretch after splitting their first two games but were unable to rally from 10 points down in the final 1:47 and took a 45-42 loss to Wake Forest on Saturday.

After last week’s loss, an outside chance at a division title is possible for NC State. If the Wolfpack beat Syracuse and North Carolina, they can win the division if Wake Forest loses to Clemson and Boston College.

“Obviously, winning the Atlantic is out of our control now, some things will have to go in our favor,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “All we can control is our next two.”

While quarterback Devin Leary is coming off a performance where he completed 37 of 59 passes for 408 yards and threw four touchdowns, NC State is hoping to rebound from committing three turnovers and 14 penalties. The Wolfpack are also hoping to do better on third downs both defensively and offensively after allowing Wake Forest to convert 10 of 19 and being unable to convert 11 of 14.

“We have a lot to play for and it starts with this game against Syracuse.” Doeren said. “They are a very physical team and a very good defensive football team. They are in the top 20 in a couple of categories (nationally), and in the top three in our league in several.”

Syracuse (5-5, 2-4) hardly looked like a team ranked in the top three in the ACC in any category and in the top-20 in any category nationally when it absorbed a 41-3 loss at Louisville on Saturday after posting consecutive wins over Virginia Tech and Boston College.

Sean Tucker enters Saturday 111 yards behind Michigan State’s Kenneth Walker III for the national rushing title. Against the Cardinals he finished with 95 yards, his second-lowest total of the season, and was unable to get an eighth straight 100-yard game.

“I think the biggest thing is we have to get back to playing Syracuse football,” Orange coach Dino Babers said in his weekly press conference on Monday. “That’s not what we played Saturday. It’s not indicative of what we’re trying to represent. We were very flat. And we weren’t physical. And those things truly bother me.

Tucker leads the ACC with 1,362 rushing yards and along with quarterback Garrett Shrader they have combined for 24 rushing touchdowns while Syracuse leads the ACC with 236.7 rushing yards per game and 26 rushing touchdowns.

The potent rushing attack has Syracuse one win away from being bowl-eligible for the first time since 2018. To reach 6-6, the Orange must win at NC State or against Pittsburgh, which enter this week as the league’s top rushing defenses.

“We understand it’s going to be a difficult venue to play in.” Babers said. “We’ve been there before — we understand that. But we’re looking forward to having an opportunity to put this football team back out front and see if we can change the narrative from what happened the previous week.”

–Field Level Media

Nov 13, 2021; Winston-Salem, North Carolina, USA; Wake Forest Demon Deacons running back Justice Ellison (14) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the North Carolina State Wolfpack during the first half at Truist Field. Mandatory Credit: William Howard-USA TODAY Sports

No. 12 Wake Forest edges No. 16 NC State

Sam Hartman threw three touchdown passes, shaking off a trio of interceptions, as No. 12 Wake Forest edged No. 16 North Carolina State 45-42 in an Atlantic Coast Conference showdown Saturday night in Winston-Salem, N.C.

Running back Justice Ellison scored Wake Forest’s final two touchdowns as the Demon Deacons never trailed for the last 26 minutes. Hartman completed 20 of 47 passes for 290 yards.

Wake Forest (9-1, 6-0 ACC) took control of the Atlantic Division, needing to win at Clemson next week or at Boston College in the regular-season finale to advance to the league championship game for the second time. Wake Forest’s lone divisional title since the league broke into divisions came in 2006.

NC State quarterback Devin Leary threw for 408 yards with four touchdowns and two interceptions, while running back Zonovan Knight had a big impact on kickoff returns.

Wake Forest went ahead in the third quarter on Hartman’s 5-yard pass to Brandon Chapman. It marked the first career touchdown for Chapman, a fifth-year senior tight end.

Hartman connected with Ellison for a 4-yard touchdown with 10:05 to play, putting the score at 38-27.

NC State (7-3, 4-2) responded less than two minutes later on Leary’s second touchdown throw to Emeka Emezie. The same duo combined for the two-point conversion. Emezie finished with 133 receiving yards on 10 catches and two touchdowns.

But Wake Forest controlled the ball for more than six minutes, scoring a touchdown on Ellison’s 4-yard run with 1:47 remaining. Leary threw 8 yards to Devin Carter (7 catches, 132 yards, 2 TDs) at the 45-second mark.

Yet it was a relatively calm second half compared with the second quarter.

Knight returned the second-half kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown after the teams combined for 24 points in the final 2 1/2 minutes of the first half.

NC State struck first on Christopher Dunn’s 28-yard field goal to cap its first possession.

Wake Forest notched the first touchdown on Hartman’s 24-yard pass to A.T. Perry later in the first quarter.

Leading 14-6, the Demon Deacons nearly expanded the edge, but Nick Sciba’s attempt on a 53-yard field goal hit the crossbar.

But a fumble by NC State’s Carter was costly, with Hartman running 5 yards for a touchdown on the next snap.

The momentum turned again quickly, with Knight’s 72-yard kickoff return setting up Leary’s 28-yard scoring pass to Emezie. The Wolfpack got the ball back and Leary hooked up with Carter for a 21-yard touchdown play.

Wake Forest wasn’t done, stretching its lead to 24-20 on Sciba’s 45-yarder on the last play of the half.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2021; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA;  Wake Forest Demon Deacons quarterback Sam Hartman (10) looks to pass in the fourth quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Rare matchup of ranked Wake Forest, NC State has ACC title ties

North Carolina State and Wake Forest have been frequent opponents for more than a century.

It would be difficult to find a more important matchup between the teams than the one on tap for Saturday night in Winston-Salem, N.C., however.

“We’re still 5-0 in the ACC, and in my mind we have a championship game to play next,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said.

The No. 12 Demon Deacons (8-1, 5-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) are coming off their first loss of the season. No. 16 NC State (7-2, 4-1) can take control of the Atlantic Division by winning this road game.

“Since we lost that game to Miami, we’ve been approaching every game as a must-win game,” NC State coach Dave Doeren said, referring to a result three weeks ago. “We’ve been in a playoff mode for the last two games. The difference in this one is it’s an in-state team. Outside of that, there isn’t a difference. We have to win this game, the next game and then the next game to be in Charlotte (for the ACC championship game).”

A Wake Forest victory would mean it would advance to the ACC championship game with a victory next week at Clemson or in the regular-season finale at Boston College

NC State goes to the ACC title game as the Atlantic Division representative by defeating Wake Forest and then topping Syracuse and North Carolina (or with defeating one of those teams with another Wake Forest loss). Clemson could factor in as well, but that would require two Wake Forest losses and two NC State defeats.

“It’s just exciting to see where NC State football is at this point,” Wolfpack safety Tanner Ingle said.

This will be the 115th meeting between the in-state foes, though just the second time both have been ranked. The Wolfpack won the first such matchup in 1992.

“Bouncing back from a loss, the adversity and not playing well on defense again,” Clawson said, referring to last week’s 58-55 loss to North Carolina in a non-league collision between ACC members. “Those are the real problems we have to fix. We’re facing adversity for the first time this season. Everything we did is fixable.”

While Wake Forest’s hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff have been dashed, the Demon Deacons know there’s plenty at stake.

“Holding onto that game (with North Carolina), we’ve got to let it go,” Wake Forest defensive lineman Miles Fox said. “It’s going to test our character a lot, but we should be good.”

Both teams have quarterbacks — Wake Forest’s Sam Hartman and NC State’s Devin Leary – putting up big numbers.

“You’ve got two really good quarterbacks competing against each other in this one,” Doeren said. “It’s going to be a really fun game to be a part of.”

Since 2001, NC State is 2-8 in road games vs. Wake Forest.

The Demon Deacons are ranked for just the fifth time when facing NC State. Wake Forest is 1-2-1 in previous such matchups.

This marks Wake Forest’s home finale and it’s NC State’s last road game — and its fourth road assignment across a five-game stretch.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA;  North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary (13) looks to pass during the first half against the Louisville Cardinals at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

NC State, Florida State fight for late-season footing

NC State looks to continue pushing for a division title in the Atlantic Coast Conference on Saturday when it visits the Florida State Seminoles in Tallahassee.

The Wolfpack (6-2, 3-1 ACC) are in second place in the Atlantic Division behind undefeated No. 10 Wake Forest (8-0, 5-0).

“November is an important month. It’s the first time in my time in the league that it’s been wide open for who is going to represent each side of the division,” NC State coach Dave Doeren, who is in his ninth season, told reporters. “It’s exciting right now in our conference.”

Florida State (3-5, 2-3) is coming off a 30-20 loss to visiting Clemson (5-3, 4-2) that ended the Seminoles’ three-game winning streak.

NC State won for the fifth time in its past six games after rallying for a 28-13 win over visiting Louisville (4-4, 2-3 ACC) last week. The Wolfpack trailed 10-7 entering the final quarter before quarterback Devin Leary tossed three touchdowns in the period to finish 25-for-36 for 317 yards and four scores.

On a night when the Wolfpack struggled to run the ball with Zonovan Knight being held to 23 yards on 11 carries, 11 receivers caught passes, led by Emeka Emezie’s five receptions for 91 yards and a touchdown. Trent Pennix added three catches for 55 yards and a score.

Leary has thrown for 2,161 yards with 21 touchdowns and just two interceptions this season for the Wolfpack, who have gone four straight games without a turnover.

Linebacker Drake Thomas and safety Tanner Ingle came up big against Louisville for the Wolfpack. Thomas had 15 tackles, including 2.5 behind the line of scrimmage, and two sacks and broke up a pass, while Ingle recorded 10 tackles, including one for a loss, to go along with a pass breakup.

The Wolfpack were playing their first full game without linebacker Isaiah Moore, who suffered a season-ending knee injury a week earlier during a loss against Miami. Moore led the team with five tackles for loss and was second on the team with 43 tackles.

Florida State’s push to be bowl eligible, after opening the season 0-4, took a major hit against Clemson.

After taking a 20-17 lead when defensive end Jermaine Johnson returned a fumble six yards for a touchdown with 7:39 remaining, the Tigers scored two touchdowns in the final three minutes to pull out the win. Will Shipley’s 21-yard run with 2:53 left gave Clemson a 24-20 lead before Barrett Carter scooped up a fumble on the final play and returned it three yards for the touchdown that provided the final margin.

The Seminoles will look to Jordan Travis (812 yards, 11 TDs, 5 INTs) to jumpstart an offense that was held to just 241 yards against the Tigers. Jashaun Corbin has rushed for a team-high 714 yards and five touchdowns this season, but no receiver has more than 220 receiving yards for the Seminoles this season.

“It was a challenging first month but we got up, we responded and we pushed forward,” FSU coach Mike Norvell told reporters. “We had about four weeks where there was some positive momentum, a lot of things we’re growing and building upon. Saturday, we got knocked down again and the only sin is if you stay down on that ground. But we’re going to jump up, we’re going to move forward and we’re going to attack every day with all we can to improve, to get better and to be the team we’re capable of being.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 16, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary (13) passes the ball during the first half against the Boston College Eagles at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports

No. 18 NC State eyes revenge against struggling Miami

Maybe this time it will be different for North Carolina State.

The 18th-ranked Wolfpack (5-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference), winners of four consecutive games, will visit the Miami Hurricanes on Saturday night.

NC State has lost the past three meetings, including a 44-41 defeat in Raleigh last year. Miami trailed by 10 points early in the fourth quarter of that contest.

The Hurricanes (2-4, 0-2) are struggling badly this season. Miami’s defense has more holes than Pebble Beach, and the offense is without star quarterback D’Eriq King, who is sidelined for the year due to a shoulder injury.

Miami has lost six straight games against Power 5 opponents, but NC State is just a 3-point favorite.

“I can’t control the lack of respect we seem to get,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “Our team recognizes that people don’t think we’re good.”

Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary is completing 67.3 percent of his passes and has thrown for 15 touchdowns while getting intercepted just twice.

NC State’s 1-2 running back punch of Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person Jr. has scored eight total touchdowns. Knight leads the team with 503 rushing yards and a 6.1 average.

Miami’s defense, which has had trouble stopping the run, does not match up well with NC State’s big and physical wide receivers, either, including 6-foot-3, 215-pounders Devin Carter and Emeka Emezie. Thayer Thomas, who is 6 feet and 195 pounds, is also a tough out.

Emezie leads the Wolfpack in receptions (34) and yards (377). Carter is second on the team in yards per catch (17.2), and Thomas leads in TD receptions (four).

Meanwhile, with King out, Miami has turned to second-year freshman quarterback Tyler Van Dyke.

He is 0-2 as a starter against FBS opponents, but he was close to winning both games. Andres Borregales missed a 33-yard field goal on the final play of a loss to Virginia. Then, last week at North Carolina, Miami was in position for a game-tying, chip-shot field goal or a possible winning TD when Van Dyke’s pass was deflected and intercepted. The result was a 45-42 loss.

“Tyler can rip the ball,” Miami coach Manny Diaz said. “What he’s learned these past two weeks is that he can do it.”

In his two ACC games, Van Dyke has completed 35 of 74 passes for 467 yards, with two TDs and three interceptions. He also has rushed for 42 yards.

Besides Van Dyke, Miami’s offense is led by running back Jaylan Knighton and wide receiver Charleston Rambo.

Cam’Ron Harris tops Miami in rushing (409 yards, 5.8 average), but he sustained a season-ending leg injury against the Tar Heels. The faster Knighton stepped in and had 165 scrimmage yards.

Rambo leads Miami in receptions (35) and yards (422).

Diaz also announced that wide receivers Dee Wiggins (62 career catches, including 31 last year) and Mark Pope (52 career catches, including 33 last year) have left the team. Both players struggled with drops and combined for just four catches this year as younger receivers passed them on the depth chart.

–Field Level Media

Nov 28, 2020; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles running back Pat Garwo III (24) runs against the Louisville Cardinals during the second half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

No. 22 NC State, Boston College face off rested after byes

No. 22 North Carolina State is entering a challenging stretch of the season after an open week on the schedule.

That’s fine with the Wolfpack going into a meeting with Boston College on Saturday night in Chestnut Hill, Mass.

NC State (4-1, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) has plenty left to prove, according to coach Dave Doeren.

“That means we’re really focused on the present,” Doeren said. “It does matter that four of the next five are on the road, but what matters more is that we just take this week for what it is. Let’s be the best that we can be this week. We’ll worry about next week next week.”

The Wolfpack already have knocked off ACC kingpin Clemson, yet a path toward a league championship is filled with potential pitfalls.

That’s why the team spent time focused on improvement during its week off.

“I think we’re a team that wants to get better. That’s the biggest thing,” Doeren said. “We’re a very close group of guys. They play hard for each other.”

Boston College (4-1, 0-1) is also coming off an open date. It hasn’t played since falling 19-13 to then-No. 25 Clemson on Oct. 2.

“We’ve got to finish,” Eagles coach Jeff Hafley said of what would make a difference in trying for a special season.

Now Boston College has a homecoming game, going into a second game in a row against a nationally ranked opponent.

“We’ll stick together and we’ll be better,” Hafley said. “We can play with anybody, anywhere in any venue, any time of the night.”

Boston College running back Pat Garwo III is averaging 93.8 yards per game on the ground. That has helped as the Eagles have transitioned to Dennis Grosel (four touchdown passes, four interceptions) as the starting quarterback.

“They’re doing a good job of making the offense fit their QB and not turning the football over, not hurting their defense,” Doeren said.

But NC State is tops in the ACC in total defense and rushing defense. The Wolfpack have given up just one rushing touchdown this season.

The Eagles have racked up 300 passing yards seven times in 16 games under Hafley. Doeren said Boston College receiver Zay Flowers, who leads the Eagles with 23 catches for 345 yards, is a difference-maker.

NC State’s lone loss came in its only road venture, at Mississippi State.

“We’ve got to do a great job of being focused and executing,” Doeren said. “There’s a lot of things that win football games on the road. Turnover margin is critical.”

Since joining the ACC, four of Boston College’s top 10 scoring totals in conference games have come against the Wolfpack. This season, the Eagles are averaging 35.6 points per game.

Boston College leads the series 10-7, including 7-3 in home games. The Atlantic Division teams didn’t play each other last year because of the restructured pandemic-related schedule, so Boston College’s 45-24 homecoming win in 2019 marks the last meeting.

This will be Boston College’s first home game on a Saturday night since Clemson visited in November 2018.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary (13) drops back to pass against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs during the first half at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

No. 23 N.C State holds off Louisiana Tech for third straight win

Devin Leary threw two touchdown passes and No. 23 North Carolina State built on its big upset from a week earlier by defeating visiting Louisiana Tech 34-27 on Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C.

It wasn’t over until Jakeen Harris intercepted a pass in the end zone on the game’s last play after Louisiana Tech drove to the NC State 22-yard line.

Zonovan Knight’s 4-yard touchdown run with 7:45 left helped clinch the outcome for NC State, which moved to a 4-1 record for the second year in a row.

The Wolfpack never trailed but it had trouble pulling away, taking the lead for good in the waning seconds of the first half.

Austin Kendall finished with 341 passing yards and three touchdowns for Louisiana Tech (2-3), which has just four victories in 52 all-time games against Top 25 opposition.
Leary ended up 22-for-36 for 251 yards.

NC State’s Ricky Person, who had a 24-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, produced 90 yards on the ground on 15 attempts. Knight racked up 85 rushing yards on 13 carries.

Still, Kendall threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, the latter on a 14-yard play to Griffin Herbert with 4:43 to play.

N.C. State, coming off a double-overtime win against Clemson a week earlier, is 4-0 at home.

NC State scored first on Leary’s 6-yard pass play to Chris Toudle, who dove into the end zone.

Louisiana Tech responded with a nine-play drive, capped by Kendall’s 2-yard toss to Jacob Adams.

Dunn, who missed all three of his field-goal attempts in the Clemson game (including a game-winning attempt from 39 yards on the final play of regulation), drilled a 36-yard field goal as the Wolfpack took a 10-7 lead in the second quarter. Louisiana Tech’s Jacob Barnes tied the game at 10-all when he booted a 21-yarder with 2:12 left in the half.

From there, each team punted before the Wolfpack went 57 yards in 36 seconds, setting up Dunn’s 29-yard field goal with two seconds left in the half.

Louisiana Tech’s two previous defeats this season came by a combined three points, including a one-point setback at Mississippi State, where NC State happened to suffer its lone defeat.

–Field Level Media

NC State quarterback Devin Leary (13) passes near Clemson defensive end Myles Murphy (98) during the fourth quarter at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., September 25, 2021.  The Tigers lost 27-21 in two overtimes game at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C., September 25, 2021. Leary  was 32-44 for 238  yards and four touchdown passes.

Ncaa Football Clemson At Nc State

Fresh off big win, No. 23 N.C. State hopes to maintain momentum

The No. 23 N.C. State Wolfpack look to avoid a letdown when they host the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs Saturday in Raleigh.

N.C. State (3-1) ended an eight-game losing streak against Clemson when they upset the then-No. 9 Tigers 27-21 in overtime last Saturday. Now they’re heavy favorites against Louisiana Tech (2-2).

“People are going to talk about trap games and letdowns and all those kinds of things. I’ve already addressed that with our team,” coach Dave Doeren said. “This game is about being better than we were last week. That’s our goal, to be a great football team. Great football teams don’t step backwards.”

The Wolfpack earned the right to celebrate after their first win over a top-10 opponent since beating No. 3 Florida State 17-16 in 2012.

Quarterback Devin Leary completed 32 of 44 passes for 238 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Devin Carter had two touchdown catches and Emeka Emezie had a career-high 14 catches for 116 yards and a touchdown.

The Wolfpack converted 11 of 21 third downs, but there are issues to correct. N.C. State was penalized 11 times for 105 yards and kicker Christopher Dunn missed three field goals, including one at the end of regulation.

The N.C. State defense held Clemson to 10 first downs on the day and just 14 points in regulation.

“They have some great players on the defensive side of the ball. They have a very solid scheme in what they do,” Louisiana Tech coach Skip Holtz said. “They’re a 3-4 defense in what they do, and they run it very, very well. They’re very gap-sound in what they do and they’re not giving up a lot of yards.”

The Bulldogs enter off a 24-17 Conference USA win over North Texas.

Quarterback Austin Kendall, who started the first three games, was scratched before the game and Aaron Allen started in his place, leading a pair of first-quarter scoring drives. JD Head also saw action and threw his first touchdown pass but left with hip soreness.

Holtz said early in the week he hopes to have Kendall back on Saturday, while it looks like Head is out.

Marcus Williams Jr. ran for two touchdowns in the first quarter, including a 42-yard dash to make it 14-0. He finished with 73 yards on 17 carries.

“You look at Marcus Williams, he’s running hard, he’s running tough, and I think if we gave him the ball 25 times a game, he would eclipse the 100-yard mark every week,” Holtz said, “and I think he would be one of the better backs in this league statistically.”

Meanwhile, wide receiver/punt returner Smoke Harris had seven receptions and returned a punt a career-long 67 yards.

“They really should be 4-0,” Doeren said of the Bulldogs. “They lost on the last play of the game to SMU on a pretty freak-show ricochet play on a Hail Mary. They had a 20-point lead in the fourth quarter against Mississippi State and lost.”

Saturday was the best defensive showing of the young season by the Bulldogs, who are giving up 33.3 points per game and 6.0 yards per play.

“The defense played a really solid football game for us in only giving up 17 points,” Holtz said. “Even with that, they were stuck with a couple short fields with a blocked punt and a fumble at our end of the field.”

The teams are meeting for the second time. The Wolfpack posted a 40-13 win to open the 2013 season.

Louisiana Tech is 4-47 against ranked competition, with the last win coming over No. 25 Navy in the 2016 Armed Forces Bowl.

–Field Level Media

Sep 11, 2021; Starkville, Mississippi, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary (13) reacts during the fourth quarter against the Mississippi State Bulldogs at Davis Wade Stadium at Scott Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

NC State limps into Furman faceoff

North Carolina State has plenty of areas to fix going into Saturday night’s game against visiting Furman in Raleigh, N.C.

Finding the solutions in a hurry would be a good idea for the Wolfpack (1-1).

“Our guys will stick together and battle back,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “It’s going to be a really good learning experience for us.”

NC State suffered a 24-10 loss at Mississippi State last week. So the Wolfpack has just one more tune-up before Atlantic Coast Conference play begins.

It’s the first of consecutive meetings against visitors from the state of South Carolina. Next week, reigning ACC champion Clemson arrives.

Yet there’s no reason for the Wolfpack to be looking past this week because of the improvements needed. That’s especially the case for an offense that sputtered so often last week – and then had hiccups in clutch situations.

“You’ve got to make your layups,” Doeren said, offering a basketball analogy. “I thought there were several that we didn’t make offensively.”

NC State received devastating news about standout linebacker Payton Wilson, who exited the Mississippi State game with an apparent shoulder injury and will be out for the rest of the season, Doeren said Monday. The Wolfpack also lost safety Cyrus Fagan for the remainder of the year. Both players will undergo surgeries.

Furman (2-0), which is No. 25 in the Football Championship Subdivision coaches’ poll, has racked up victories against North Carolina A&T and Tennessee Tech. Last week’s 26-0 blanking of Tennessee Tech marked the first shutout for the Paladins since 2004.

“Our defense will have to play really well (again),” Furman coach Clay Hendrix said of this week’s task. “We have to find a way offensively to score some points and give our guys a chance. It will be a huge challenge for us.”

NC State is counting on maturity in reacting to its setback. Quarterback Devin Leary said the approach from several teammates has been encouraging.

“All those guys were just speaking up that we are going to bounce back,” Leary said. “We’re going to learn from our mistakes. That’s the maturity of our team coming out.”

The Wolfpack also lost its second game of the 2020 season on the road (to Virginia Tech) and turned it around in a hurry.

“We’ve got to understand that we’ve got to be consistent every week,” defensive back Tanner Ingle said. “I feel like we’re going to do a good job of doing that considering how much we’ve been through as a team.”

Furman quarterback Hamp Sisson was the Southern Conference’s top offensive performer in the first week of the season when his 362 passing yards marked the second-most in the program’s 117-year history. Then last week, kicker/punter Timmy Bleekrode booted four field goals, including a 51-yarder, and was named the league’s Special Teams Player of the Week.

Furman holds an 8-5-4 record against NC State. The only meeting since 1985 came with the Wolfpack’s 49-16 romp in 2017. This will mark the sixth straight matchup in Raleigh, though the Paladins left with victories in 1976, 1984 and 1985.

“Those were some fun times,” said Hendrix, who was a Furman player for those mid-1980s meetings. “One of our goals is to win an FBS game every year. Our kids will be excited. That’s one thing I really don’t have a concern about.”

–Field Level Media