A wonderful upset by the NC State football team against then-No. 9 Clemson came to fruition Saturday night with some of the best offense we’ve seen from the Wolfpack this season. Outside of a few nitpicks, the offense brought the heat to capitalize on the Pack defense’s stellar night.
Redshirt sophomore Devin Leary put on a fantastic performance, recording four touchdown passes, tying his career-high, and throwing for 238 yards, his second-best performance this season. Leary went 32 for 44, with an average of 7.4 yards per completion. The highlight of the night for Leary was definitely the final touchdown pass in the second overtime, a beautiful 22-yard pass to redshirt sophomore Devin Carter in the back corner of the endzone.
Overall, this was his second-best game of the season, but even coming down after a win against Furman, Leary performed like he still had a lot to give.
Junior running back Ricky Person Jr. and sophomore running back Zonovan Knight were once again neck and neck as the top rushers for the Pack and yet, neither of them showed the same energy they’ve shown previously. Person came out with 91 rushing yards in 21 attempts with an average of 4.3 yards per attempt. Knight had 79 yards in 23 attempts with an average of 3.4 yards per attempt. Despite these lower numbers, with how well the receiving corps was in this game, rushing wasn’t as important.
After no sacks and providing phenomenal opportunities for running backs against Furman, the Pack’s offensive line proved to be one of the weaker parts of this offense against Clemson. The Clemson defense was able to sack Leary three times throughout the game and one of those sacks resulted in the ball going to Clemson. NC State’s offensive line was somewhat porous in the game, giving the Clemson defense those sacking and quarterback-pressure opportunities.
With Leary throwing the way he did, the Pack’s receivers were set up for a day full of success that they were able to capitalize on. Senior wide receiver Emeka Emezie led the team in receiving yards with 116. Emezie was definitely the go-to receiver for Leary, with 14 passes, averaging 8.3 yards per pass. Carter led the team with two receiving touchdowns, including the game-winning 22-yard pass.
There were three receivers that, while only having one pass the entire game, that one pass was for 10 or 11 yards. Between those three and Emezie and Carter, the NC State receiver corps really pushed this offense to where it needed to be.
While the Pack defense definitely held this game in NC State’s favor, the offense was certainly nothing to sneeze at. With this performance against a ranked team, this offense is going to be exciting to keep watching, should it stay on this trajectory.