Skip to main content

NC State held on late to outlast East Carolina, 21-20, at Dowdy Ficklen Stadium in Greenville, North Carolina, on Saturday in the season opener for both schools.

Here is a list of five things that went well for the Wolfpack.

1. Defense

The Wolfpack could not muster any points in the second half, so NC State's defense had to limit its opponent to 20 points or less -- something not common in the current landscape of college football. 

NC State intercepted two passes and needed both. The Pack had seven tackles for loss and limited East Carolina to 109 yards on the ground.

There are things for NC State to work on, but ECU looks like a conference title contender, so for the Wolfpack to limit the Pirates as they did in a season opener on the road bodes well in many respects.

Tyler Baker-Williams was one of two NC State players who intercepted East Carolina passes. 

Tyler Baker-Williams was one of two NC State players who intercepted East Carolina passes. 

2. Demie Sumo-Karngbaye

NC State has employed a timeshare at the running back position in recent seasons, limiting carries by using two or three backs over the course of the game. 

Going into the 2022 campaign, it would appear that the Wolfpack would be searching for production at the position with the departures of Zonovan Knight and Ricky Person Jr., and Jordan Houston was the lone veteran that NC State head coach Dave Doeren could lean on. 

Sumo-Karngbaye went for 79 yards on the ground on 14 carries. He also scored a touchdown. The goalline stand that prevented him from getting a second score was a downer for the Wolfpack, but his 5.6 yards per carry despite that is a shining moment.

Demie Sumo-Karngbaye had a terrific game for the Wolfpack at East Carolina.

Demie Sumo-Karngbaye had a terrific game for the Wolfpack at East Carolina.

3. Playing Football With Bad Intentions

NC State had several players that were in a hard-hitting mood Saturday.

Tanner Ingle is to be expected. In fact, it has been a problem for him over the years as he has been judged to have crossed the line with his hits -- probably unfairly in some cases. 

Most of the Wolfpack secondary and linebackers were attacking with bad intentions against the Pirates. This is a mindset that NC State needs, especially in games when it goes without a sack.

Cecil Powell and NC State's defense often tackled with bad intentions at ECU. 

Cecil Powell and NC State's defense often tackled with bad intentions at ECU. 

4. Special Teams

It is simple. Special teams decided the game. NC State made the plays, and ECU missed the kicks. 

The Wolfpack blocked a punt and recovered it for a touchdown. Thayer Thomas also had a solid day returning punts. East Carolina missed an extra point and then a field goal on the final play of the game. There is not much analysis needed. 

Thayer Thomas contributed to NC State's special teams at ECU. 

Thayer Thomas contributed to NC State's special teams at ECU. 

5. Finding A Way To Win

Devin Leary struggled, and the offense went scoreless in the second half. The Wolfpack were twice stopped on the goal line and had a crucial late turnover. 

Everything pointed towards the Pack finding a way to lose, except ECU made enough mistakes late -- especially in its kicking game -- to help NCSU pull it out. 

The Wolfpack has 11 games left. While there is nothing decided, and it will not be for months, history says teams that have elite seasons find a way to win even when they are not supposed to. A demoralizing loss in the season opener could change the whole dynamic of NC State's path in 2022. Now, the Wolfpack will have a likely breather on Saturday at home against Charleston Southern before welcoming Texas Tech to Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh. 

NC State could have and, perhaps, should have lost. The Wolfpack found a way to win. 

NC State could have and, perhaps, should have lost. The Wolfpack found a way to win. 

Twitter: Follow @RobMcLamb on Twitter for updates on NC State Athletics!

Stay tuned to All-Wolfpack on SI for all the latest news for NC State. Follow us on Facebook (All-Wolfpack) as well as Twitter and Instagram (@NCStateonSI).