N.C. State spoils Syracuse’s senior day as the Wolfpack win 36-29

Orange Nation

Syracuse wide receiver Taj Harris (3) gets tackled during the first half of an NCAA college football game against North Carolina State on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, at the in Syracuse, N.Y. (Scott Schild /The Post-Standard via AP)

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Syracuse was about seven yards away from potentially tying the game as time wound down Saturday against N.C. State, but a sack on 3rd down and a quarterback spike on 4th down seemingly ended the game with one second left, and gave N.C. State the 36-29 victory.

Led by redshirt senior quarterback Rex Culpepper, the Orange drove down to N.C. State’s seven-yard line with time winding down and the ‘Cuse trailing by seven. On 3rd down, Culpepper ran around in the pocket before eventually taking an 11-yard sack with about ten seconds left. After that play, Syracuse hurried up to the line of scrimmage, but Culpepper spiked the ball on 4th down with one second left. As a result, Syracuse turned the ball over on downs and practically ended the game without ever taking a chance at the end zone. 

It was Syracuse’s senior day in the Dome Saturday, but a junior wound up stealing the show. Junior wide receiver Taj Harris had a career day, catching 13 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. Harris’ touchdown put the Orange in front 29-20 in the third quarter before N.C. State closed out the game on a 16-0 run. The 146 yards were also a career-high for Harris.

Harris was about the only offensive threat for the Orange, as the Wolfpack defense swallowed up freshman running back Sean Tucker and the SU running attack. Tucker finished the game 16 rushing attempts, but that only amounted to 18 yards.

On the other side of the ball, Syracuse’s secondary was exposed. N.C. State junior quarterback Bailey Hockman completed 23 of 31 attempts for 313 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. Junior receiver Thayer Thomas was Hockman’s favorite target Saturday, hauling in nine passes for 102 yards and three touchdowns. 

In front of an empty Dome due to COVID-19, N.C. State jumped out to an early 7-0 lead. However, freshman wide receiver Trebor Pena took the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown, which tied the game 7-7.

After a pair of Andre Szmyt field goals and an N.C. State touchdown, Orange senior Nykeim Johnson caught his only pass of the day, a 60-yard touchdown pass to put Syracuse in front 20-14.

With about two minutes to play before halftime, Syracuse freshman linebacker Marlowe Wax sacked N.C. State’s Hockman for a 12-yard loss and a safety. The safety was one of two sacks for Wax, and it gave the Orange a 22-14 lead heading into halftime.

In the second half, Syracuse would only score once, as N.C. State chipped away at the lead and ended the game on a 16-0 run to win the game 36-29.

With the win, N.C. State is now 7-3 on the season, and the Orange fall to 1-9.

Syracuse will close out their season next Saturday at #2 Notre Dame.

Highlights from Saturday’s game:

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