SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — Bailey Hockman hit Emeka Emezie with a 26-yard go-ahead score early in the fourth quarter and connected with Thayer Thomas for three more scores through the air and North Carolina rallied to defeat Syracuse 36-29 Saturday.
The win was the third straight for the Wolfpack (7-3, 6-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) and the seventh consecutive loss for the Orange (1-9, 1-8). Linebacker Payton Wilson sacked Syracuse quarterback Rex Culpepper for a loss 11 yards on a third-and-seven from the Wolfpack 7-yard line with 24 seconds remaining to preserve the win.
The Syracuse defense came out strong, sacking Hockman four times, intercepting a pass, registering six tackles for loss and forcing a safety, all in the first half. Syracuse held a 22-14 advantage at the break, the team’s first halftime lead since game three, a 37-20 victory over Georgia Tech. The Orange clung to a 29-27 lead after three but was held scoreless the rest of the way. Emezie’s score with 14:14 to go gave the Wolfpack the lead for good.
N.C. State held Syracuse to 3 yards on 25 attempts on the ground and just 257 yards of total offense.
Hockman was 23 of 31 for 313 yards and four touchdowns. In addition to his scoring strike with Emezie, Hockman also connected with Thomas on scoring plays of 15, 31 and 9 yards, a career best for the wide receiver. Zonovan Knight ran seven yards for another Wolfpack score and Christopher Dunn added a 31-yard field goal.
Culpepper completed 23 of 45 passes for 254 yards and two touchdowns, a 60-yard pass play with Nykeim Johnson and a 13-yard scoring strike to Taj Harris, who had a career-best 13 receptions for 146 yards.
Just 13 seconds after Knight’s run to open the scoring, freshman Trebor Pena tied the game at 7 on a 98-yard kickoff return for the Orange midway through the first quarter, and SU took a 13-7 lead on field goals of 45 and 23 yards by Andre Szmyt.
N.C. State: A heavy favorite entering the game, the Wolfpack had all they could handle against an undermanned Syracuse team but pulled it out, thanks to a career game from Hockman.
Syracuse: One thing you have to say about the Orange: they didn’t go down without a fight. Where many teams would’ve mailed it in, Syracuse played with heart.
North Carolina State closes its season at home next Saturday against Georgia Tech