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Junior linebacker Drake Thomas celebrates his sack of Tar Heel quarterback Drake Maye during the Wolfpack's last regular season football game against the UNC-Chapel Hill Tar Heels at Kenan Memorial Stadium on Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. The Wolfpack beat the Tar Heels in double overtime 30-27.

In its regular season finale, NC State football won 30-27 in a double overtime thriller. Led by its defense, the Wolfpack slowed down the explosive Tar Heel offense, limiting them to 351 total yards. Once again, NC State’s linebackers were the strength of the team, but the rest of the defense had a memorable game.

Defensive line

Facing one of the ACC’s best offenses, NC State needed every unit on defense to play its best, and the defensive line showed out against the Tar Heels. The line only recorded two sacks, but throughout the game the group did a great job of chasing down North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye. Sophomore defensive tackle Davin Vann recorded one of those sacks, along with a pair of quarterback hurries. 

Aside from Vann, two more defensive linemen stepped up. Graduate defensive tackle Cory Durden and redshirt sophomore defensive tackle C.J. Clark both had excellent performances. With five total tackles, including one for loss and two quarterback hurries, Durden was relentless in his pursuit of Maye. As a result, the Tar Heels’ passing attack struggled and Maye only threw for 233 yards.

Adding to the defensive line’s success, Clark had a big day for the Wolfpack. With five solo tackles, his presence was felt in the run game. With Clark leading the charge, the defensive line shut down North Carolina’s running game, holding the Tar Heels to just three yards per carry.  

Grade: A

Linebackers

The entire linebacking unit proved once again that it is one of the best in the country. In another spectacular performance, junior linebacker Drake Thomas piled up 10 tackles, three quarterback hurries and a sack. In every game this year, Thomas has been a force to be reckoned with, and this trend continued against the Heels. As Thomas could be wrapping up his collegiate career, he’ll be remembered as one of the best linebackers to ever wear the red-and-white. 

Another potential NFL prospect, redshirt junior Payton Wilson, shined in the rivalry game. As a former North Carolina commit, Wilson saved one of his best performances for the Tar Heels — leading the team with 11 total tackles and posting two quarterback hurries. His stats may not be eye-popping, which is to be expected when playing alongside two other phenomenal players, but his impact was felt throughout the game. 

Graduate linebacker Isaiah Moore also had a memorable game against North Carolina. Despite being in and out of the game with an injury, Moore still helped shut down the run game, totaling seven tackles during the bout. His grit to battle through injuries and adversity throughout his career has been impressive and was once again on display in the regular-season finale.

Grade: A+

Secondary

Facing a quality group of receivers, the secondary held its own. While Antoine Green and Josh Downs combined for 14 receptions, they were limited to short and intermediate plays. By taking away the deep ball, NC State slowed down the high-flying Tar Heel offense.

Senior safety Tanner Ingle had a great performance against North Carolina. With nine tackles, he was heavily involved in stopping the run and preventing receivers from creating big plays. However, his biggest contribution was a fourth quarter interception that set up the go-ahead touchdown for the offense. Diving in front of a Tar Heel receiver, Ingle made an incredible catch on one of the most important plays of the season.

Grade: A-

Correspondent

I’m Noah Teague, a freshman from Charlotte, North Carolina. I am an economics major and I joined the Technician in the fall of 2022.