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Sophomore linebacker Drake Thomas intercepts the ball and runs towards the end zone on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021 at Carter-Finley Stadium. Thomas had four tackles and two sacks throughout the night. The Wolfpack won 41-17 against the Orange.

The NC State defense did what it should against an inferior Syracuse offense. Despite the Orange having a great running back, the Wolfpack limited his success and was dominant against the Syracuse passing attack. Here are the defensive grades from the home win.

Linebackers

The legend of sophomore linebacker Drake Thomas continued Saturday night. Despite already having an all-conference season to this point, Thomas may have had his best game yet. He sacked the quarterback twice and registered eight total tackles. However, his biggest play of the night was a pick-6 in the second quarter to give the Wolfpack a double-digit lead. 

Redshirt junior linebacker Vi Jones also had a great game alongside Thomas. The Austin, Texas native had six tackles on the night and a sack that resulted in a loss of 16 yards. 

Grade: A+

Defensive line

NC State knew it was going up against the ACC’s leading rusher in Sean Tucker. All in all, the Pack did a great job of containing him, except for one play where he broke free for a 55-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. 

Graduate defensive lineman Daniel Joseph was the leader up front against the Orange. He had four tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and a sack. Also with four tackles was graduate defensive tackle Cory Durden.

Grade: B

Secondary

After getting exposed at times a week ago at Wake Forest, the NC State secondary responded by dominating all night long. Syracuse quarterback Garret Shrader threw for just 63 yards on 8-of-20 pass attempts. 

Not only was the secondary dominant in coverage, it also did a great job in helping out with tackles. Junior safety Tanner Ingle and graduate cornerback Derek Pitts Jr. both had five tackles against the Orange. 

Grade: A-

Overall, it was a great week for the NC State defense from top to bottom. It will look to build off of its performance when rival UNC-Chapel Hill comes to town on Friday, Nov. 26. This will be a tall task though, as it will be up against one of the best quarterbacks in the ACC, Sam Howell, who has owned the Wolfpack the last two seasons.

Staff Writer

I’m Will Thornhill, a staff writer for the Technician’s sports department since March of 2019. I am in the class of 2022 at NC State, with a double-major in Sport Management and Communication Media.