Thayer Thomas

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Sputtering offense dooms Syracuse to 0-2 start to ACC play

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Syracuse began the season ranked No. 22 in the AP poll with real optimism that Dino Babers and company could present a real challenge to Clemson for ACC supremacy, with the Tigers coming to the Carrier Dome and two straight competitive games between the two.

Halfway into the season now, that looks like one of the College Football Collective Intelligentsia’s biggest swings and misses of 2019.

The Orange are now 3-3 and 0-2 in ACC play after a 16-10 loss to NC State in Raleigh on Thursday night.

Syracuse was held scoreless in the first half and trailed 16-3 deep into the fourth quarter, finally coming alive to make the game closer than it appeared. Trishton Jackson finally put the Orange in the end zone with a 2-yard reception at the 3:00 mark of the fourth quarter, and an NC State three-and-out gave Syracuse the ball at its own 24 with 1:30 left to win the game.

The Orange pushed into NC State territory, reaching the 39-yard line with 24 seconds remaining, when the drive ended in fitting fashion: a false start, an incomplete pass, a sack and a false start.

Tommy DeVito was sacked eight times on the night, many of them avoidable — including the last one, with open receivers in front of him and no timeouts left inside the game’s final 10 seconds — which erased much of the damage his 300 yards on 29-of-39 passing did through the air.

When combined with the sack yardage, Syracuse ran 37 times for just 41 yards while also committing 12 penalties for 59 yards.

With the loss, Syracuse has now scored 20, 6 and 10 points in its three games against Power 5 competition, all of them losses. The Orange have averaged 39 points against non-Power 5 opponents.

NC State (4-2, 1-1 ACC) wasn’t much better, as the score indicates. Bailey Hockman played most of the way at quarterback, completing 16-of-27 passes for 205 yards and an interception. The Wolfpack’s only touchdown came on a double pass from Hockman to wide receiver Thayer Thomas to Trent Pennix, giving the home team a 13-0 lead just before halftime. Zonovan Knight and Jordan Houston led NC State’s ground efforts, combining for 115 yards on 28 carries.

Late touchdown gives NC State commanding halftime lead over hapless Syracuse

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At the half in Raleigh, NC State holds a 13-0 lead over Syracuse.

Christopher Dunn put NC State up 6-0 early field goals of 32 and 43 yards in the first quarter, but the Wolfpack finally posted the half’s only touchdowns at the 1:16 mark of the second quarter on a double pass from quarterback Bailey Hockman to wide receiver Thayer Thomas and then to a wide open running back Trent Pennix for a 32-yard touchdown.

Syracuse’s offense has been unable to get a single thing going thus far. Tommy DeVito has completed 10 of his first 14 passes, but for just 70 yards while taking five sacks for minus-39 yards, meaning the Orange’s first 19 pass calls have netted just 31 yards. DeVito finally hit a big play just before the end of the half, a 52-yard rainbow to Thriston Jackson, but DeVito took his sixth sack of the half on the next play, forcing a 44-yard Andre Smzyt field goal try, which doinked off the left upright.

Syracuse gained just 117 yards in the first half, while NC State put up 216.

NC State will receive to open the second half which, considering the way the half went for Syracuse, might be a good thing for the Orange.