RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State focused all week on avoiding a letdown after its upset win at then-No. 12 Florida State a week ago.
With failures of the recent past in their minds, the Wolfpack started fast to make sure there would be no such disappointment this year.
Nyheim Hines rushed for 115 yards and a touchdown, Jaylen Samuels and Reggie Gallaspy each ran for a score as well, and N.C. State held off a late rally to beat Syracuse 33-25 on Saturday afternoon.
The Wolfpack (4-1, 2-0 ACC) racked up 256 rushing yards and never trailed en route to their fourth consecutive win. They began conference play 2-0 for the first time since 2006 with the victory.
“We’re trying to build a legacy,” Hines said. “We’re the first (N.C. State) team to go 2-0 in the ACC in 11 years. That was a point of emphasis..The team that beat Florida State last time lost the next week, so really it’s about not repeating history and living a legacy of our own.”
Ryan Finley completed 20 of 33 passes for 186 yards and threw a 20-yard touchdown to Stephen Louis. Samuels racked up 111 total yards, 74 rushing and 37 receiving.
N.C. State scored on its first five possessions and led 26-7 at halftime. The Orange (2-3, 0-1 ACC) rallied to cut the deficit to 26-17 in the fourth quarter, but the Wolfpack put it away with a 10-play, 65-yard drive capped by Hines’ 1-yard touchdown run.
Eric Dungey tried to rally Syracuse back with a touchdown pass and two-point conversion run to make it a 33-25 game with 4:39 to go, but it was too little, too late. N.C. State’s Cole Cook recovered the Orange’s onside kick attempt and the Wolfpack ran out the clock, including a key 4th-and-1 conversion on a quarterback sneak by Finley.
“We’ve got to find a way to start faster,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “You can’t spot (teams) leads like that and then expect to run them back down in their venues with their crowds behind them.”
Dungey passed for 385 yards and ran for 44 yards and two scores for the Orange. Ervin Philips made 17 catches for 188 yards, both career-highs, and Steve Ishmael made six catches for 120 yards and a touchdown.
Syracuse hampered itself with 12 penalties for 93 yards. The Orange offensive line had a long day as well, allowing three sacks and nine tackles for a loss.
SYRACUSE: The Orange continue to struggle to get stops defensively. They have allowed 29 points per game against FBS foes this year, including 30-plus points in back-to-back weeks.
N.C. State: This year’s Wolfpack continue to show they may be different than their predecessors, who made a frequent habit of letdowns and close, late losses.
“We’re a lot more mature than we have been in the past,” senior defensive end Bradley Chubb said. “A lot of guys in the past would’ve been like ‘Oh we beat the No. 12 team so we don’t have to come out as hard this week.’ We just all executed exactly what we needed to do.”
N.C. State didn’t commit a turnover for the fourth consecutive game. Finley ran his streak of consecutive attempts without an interception to 257, the longest active streak in the nation.
Not everything went positively for the Wolfpack. Senior running back Dakwa Nichols was carted off with a knee injury late in the first quarter and coach Dave Doeren said after the game that Nichols would undergo season-ending surgery on Sunday. He did not specify the exact nature of the injury.
Dungey’s effort was the 18th 300-yard passing game of his career, passing Ryan Nassib for the most in Syracuse history. His two rushing touchdowns leave him just one shy of the school quarterback record of 19 rushing touchdowns, shared by Bill Hurley and Donovan McNabb.
SYRACUSE: The Orange return home to face Pittsburgh after back-to-back road games.
N.C. STATE: The Wolfpack have a short week and host No. 17 Louisville on Thursday.