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Senior wide receiver Emeka Emezie uses a juke move after a reception. Emezie amassed 116 receiving yards and 1one  touchdown. The NC State Wolfpack defeated the Clemson Tigers 27-21 in double overtime at Carter-Finley Stadium on Sept. 25, 2021. 

With a dominant 33-7 showing at Boston College, the No. 18 NC State football team (5-1, 2-0 ACC) established itself as a true contender for the ACC Atlantic division. Let's take a look at what we learned from the game:

Receivers making big plays

Dave Doeren sees redshirt sophomore quarterback Devin Leary’s job as taking care of the ball and getting it to playmakers. He's been doing his job well as of late, and now the receiving corps is really taking on its role in making plays. Redshirt sophomore receiver Devin Carter made one, trapping the ball against his defender’s back and turning an underthrown ball into a touchdown. Redshirt junior receiver Thayer Thomas had a highlight play as well, sneaking upfield on a broken play for a catch then running it 61 yards to the end zone. Yards after the catch hasn't been the strong suit of this offense, but the group is doing enough to keep the offense balanced.

Emeka Emezie

With a two-reception day, senior receiver Emeka Emezie became NC State’s all-time leader in receptions, overtaking a former teammate in Jaylen Samuels. Emezie’s talked a lot about paving his own path and leaving his own legacy at NC State, returning to his No. 86 jersey after a year of taking on Kelvin Harmon’s No. 3 mantle, and it's now undeniable that he has. As the picture of consistency, he’ll leave this team the standard for young players in terms of work ethic, attitude and quiet leadership.

Defense

Stop me if you've heard this before, but this team’s defense is pretty OK. It ranks as the No. 2 scoring defense in the ACC, No. 1 in yards allowed per game, No. 1 in first downs allowed and No. 1 in third down conversions. Nationally those figures rank No. 5, No. 12, No. 10 and No. 1, respectively. Without starters at all three levels, this unit has made good on its preseason promise to be one of the best in the country.

Led by the stellar play of redshirt junior linebacker Isaiah Moore, the sky is the limit for what that side of the football can accomplish.

Penalties

NC State had been doing better as of late on the penalties front, but those issues reared their ugly head again on Saturday. The Wolfpack won nearly every statistical category except penalties, in which NC State had nine for 86 yards to Boston College’s three for 25. While one of those calls was a weak, undeserved roughing the passer on graduate defensive end Daniel Joseph, those penalties are what gave the Eagles life early on, extending drives on defense and shortening them for NC State’s offense. That needs to get cleaned up.

Looking forward

As well as NC State is playing, it's still relatively early in the year, so no time to smell the roses. With talented, but bad teams on the docket for the next three weeks, the team has a bevy of opportunities to stumble. Should it keep its head on straight and take care of business, it's looking like the ACC Atlantic championship will be Nov. 13, held in Winston-Salem. NC State has only gotten off to a 6-1 record once in Doeren’s tenure, in 2017, so we’ll see if the 2021 edition can match that this Saturday by giving him his first win over Miami.

Editor-in-Chief

I'm Jaylan Harrington, Editor-in-Chief at Technician. I'm in NC State's class of 2022 majoring in communication. I've been at Technician since the fall of 2018. For more of my coverage, you can follow me @jaylan__1 on Twitter.