North Carolina State du­els Syra­cuse in key tilt

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By John Kekis

It’s must-win time for North Carolina State and Syra­cuse at the Car­rier Dome to­day. Time is run­ning out on their post­sea­son hopes. Each team has to win two of three to be­come bowl-el­i­gi­ble,

It’s must-win time for North Carolina State and Syra­cuse. Time is run­ning out on their post­sea­son hopes.

Each team has to win two of three to be­come bowl-el­i­gi­ble, and one will be very dis­ap­pointed on Satur­day af­ter they play in the Car­rier Dome.

“That’s a ma­jor goal we’re fight­ing for,” North Carolina State de­fen­sive end Bradley Chubb said. “Just got to stick to­gether, stay as a team, and hope­fully ev­ery­thing will pan out the way we want it to.”

Both teams are 4-5, with the Or­ange at 2-3 in the At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence and N.C. State at 1-4.

Syra­cuse is com­ing off a 54-0 pound­ing at No. 2 Clem­son. Start­ing quar­ter­back Eric Dungey was knocked out of the game last Satur­day with a jar­ring hit to the shoul­der and head in the first quar­ter and did not re­turn. He un­der­went a bat­tery of tests af­ter re­turn­ing to Syra­cuse. The team listed him as ques­tion­able in its in­jury re­port to the ACC on Thurs­day night.

“We run our sys­tem,” Or­ange coach Dino Babers said. “We’re go­ing to do the things that we do. You need to do what you’ve done all year long, and hope­fully the play­ers around you, around the quar­ter­back po­si­tion if Eric doesn’t play, play bet­ter.”

That means an up-tempo of­fense that has clicked an aw­ful lot in this first sea­son un­der Babers, ex­cept on the score­board. Dungey ranks third in the ACC and 16th na­tion­ally in pass­ing yards with 2,679 on the strength of six 300-yard games, and he leads the con­fer­ence and ranks sixth in the coun­try in com­ple­tions per game, av­er­ag­ing 25.

“Even if we were pre­tend­ing the other two guys were go­ing to play, there’s not enough film to know what’s go­ing to be dif­fer­ent,” Wolf­pack coach Dave Do­eren said. “You have to go in there and plan on see­ing Dungey, de­fend­ing all the things he’s been able to do.”

Other things to know when North Carolina State vis­its Syra­cuse on Satur­day:

QB shuf­fle

The Syra­cuse depth chart re­leased ear­lier this week listed both Austin Wilson and Zack Mahoney as back­ups to Dungey. Wilson fin­ished 17 of 27 for 116 yards pass­ing against Clem­son, both ca­reer highs, but threw two in­ter­cep­tions in his first ap­pear­ance this sea­son. Mahoney, who was 1 of 4 for eight yards against the Tigers, quar­ter­backed the Or­ange in last year’s 42-29 loss at N.C. State while Dungey was out with an in­jury and passed for 152 yards and two touch­downs. A walkon last year, Mahoney also started against LSU and Clem­son and played well, earn­ing a schol­ar­ship this sea­son.

Bat­tle of the wide­outs

For the first time in school history, N.C. State has three re­ceivers — Stephen Louis, Bra’Lon Cherry, and Mau­rice Trow­ell — with catches of 70-plus yards in the same sea­son. No other ACC school has more than two. Four play­ers on each team have 100yard re­ceiv­ing games. Syra­cuse’s Amba Etta-Tawo has 1,158 re­ceiv­ing yards, sixth in the na­tion and sec­ond among Power 5 con­fer­ence play­ers.

Close but no cigar

Four of N.C. State’s losses have been by seven points or fewer, and Clem­son went into over­time. The Wolf­pack failed to con­vert three field goals (one was blocked) against the Tigers, in­clud­ing a 33-yarder on the fi­nal play of reg­u­la­tion that would have won the game.

“We’ve made a lot of progress in a lot of ways, but we still haven’t put away teams when we had them on the ropes,” Do­eren said. “When you get there and don’t get it done against two of them, there’s no moral vic­tory there. There’s progress, there just isn’t plea­sure.”

De­ter­mined Dayes

Se­nior tail­back Matt Dayes needs 169 yards to be­come N.C. State’s first 1,000-yard rusher since T.A. McClen­don in 2002 and only the eighth player in school history to reach that mark. This sea­son, Dayes has gained 53 per­cent (442 of 831) of his rush­ing yards af­ter con­tact.

Wolf­pack dom­i­nance

N.C. State is 8-1 against Syra­cuse. Bet­ter yet, the Wolf­pack is 4-0 in the Car­rier Dome. Syra­cuse’s lone win in the se­ries was 2410 three years ago, the Or­ange’s first tri­umph as a mem­ber of the ACC.

RICHARD SHIRO — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Syra­cuse head coach Dino Babers re­acts dur­ing the sec­ond half of an NCAA col­lege foot­ball game against Clem­son, Satur­day in Clem­son, S.C. Clem­son won 54-0.

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