Defense key in No. 16 NC State’s victory over Texas Tech
Published 11:26 pm Saturday, September 17, 2022
By AARON BEARD
AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH — Aydan White returned one of his two interceptions 84 yards for a touchdown to lead a strong defensive effort that carried No. 16 North Carolina State past Texas Tech, 27-14 on Saturday night.
Facing the Bowl Subdivision’s top passing offense, N.C. State’s veteran defense harassed quarterback Donovan Smith and shut down any ground game the Red Raiders tried to muster. The highlight was White’s fourth-down pick of Smith’s overthrown second-quarter ball, with White taking the interception down the left side with three teammates sprinting to escort him all the way to the end zone.
White also had a sack on a cornerback blitz, one of four for the Wolfpack (3-0). Jakeen Harris came up with a fourth-down interception near midfield with 8:38 left as Texas Tech (2-1) tried to make a late push.
The defensive effort offset a shaky day by the Wolfpack’s offense, which had its own troubles with stalled drives and score-negating mistakes. Demie Sumo-Karngbaye — who lost a sure TD catch when he was stripped near the goal line and fumbled out of the end zone — scored twice, the second on a 38-yard catch off a trick-play pass from Thayer Thomas for a 27-7 lead early in the fourth.
Smith ran and threw for scores to lead the Red Raiders, as his 3-yard keeper cut the deficit to 27-14. But after Texas Tech forced a three-and-out to get the ball back, Smith fired incomplete on three straight passes before Harris picked him off over the middle to keep the Wolfpack in control.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders elevated expectations for first-year coach Joey McGuire, whose team was picked to finish ninth in the 10-team Big 12 but upset a ranked Houston team last weekend. The defense made things difficult on the Wolfpack. But the team didn’t get its offense going until falling behind and lost a muffed punt to go with its three picks.
N.C. State: Much of the attention has focused on the presence of preseason Atlantic Coast Conference player of the year Devin Leary at quarterback. But the defense that returned 10 starters from a unit that ranked 14th in FBS in scoring defense (19.7) and 21st in total defense (331.6 yards) carried this win as N.C. State managed 270 total yards. Lineman C.J. Clark had two sacks while the Wolfpack smothered the Red Raiders’ rushing game by allowing 54 yards on 26 carries.
The defensive performance against a power-conference opponent might be enough for some voters to lift the Wolfpack in their AP Top 25 ballots.
Texas Tech linebacker Bryce Ramirez was carted off in the first quarter with a serious leg injury.
He was injured when teammates tackled Wolfpack running back Jordan Houston, with the pile rolling over Ramirez’s left leg that was planted in the turf.
The leg was twisted abnormally as he laid on the grass, with team training staffers using a towel to cover the lower left leg as they began treating him. He was later taken to a hospital trauma center.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders host No. 21 Texas in their Big 12 opener next weekend.
N.C. State: Connecticut visits Raleigh next Saturday in the Wolfpack’s final nonconference game.
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