It’s easy to forgive a bad first quarter when the second quarter is this good.
Sometimes you need a spark to start the landslide, and while NC State’s offense struggled to put points up early on Syracuse, the defense struck at just the right time. It was Drake Thomas’ interception touchdown return that really tilted this one decisively in State’s direction.
We should take a moment to appreciate what a breathtakingly bad throw that was by Garrett Shrader. He’s eying his receiver the entire play, and even if you were to teleport Drake Thomas out of existence on this down, the throw most likely gets broken up as it reaches the receiver. NC State was all over that throw.
Shrader finished 8-20 for 63 yards—that’s a 40 percent completion rate on 3.2 per attempt. Three-point-two passing yards per attempt. Tough to be that bad. Coming into the night, NC State’s defense had limited three opponents to under 150 yards passing, but none under 100. This was easily the best performance by State’s defense since giving up 111 yards on 4.3 per attempt against Clemson.
Lots of credit due all around, but as soon as Syracuse had to rely on Shrader to try digging out from under a multi-score deficit, this thing was over. First quarter offensive foibles aside, this was a pretty clinical job taking care of business in a must-win game.