It was the kind of injury that silences a stadium.
N.C. State’s Dakwa Nichols was running toward the sideline late in the first quarter Saturday at Carter-Finley Stadium. Syracuse linebacker Parris Bennett was in pursuit, reaching out, grabbing Nichols’ facemask, yanking him down.
Nichols’ legs appeared to buckle as he fell awkwardly, and NCSU medical personnel quickly were on the field. The game was stopped for several minutes as the players somberly took a knee, many with their heads down.
Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said after the game that Nichols suffered a season-ending injury and would undergo surgery Sunday. Nichols later tweeted that he tore the patellar tendons in both knees.
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“I feel for him,” Doeren said. “He’s a great young man who’s put a lot of time into our program. We’ll be praying for him.”
Nichols is a graduate student from Rockingham, listed as the third running back on the Pack depth chart behind Nyheim Hines and Reggie Gallaspy II. Against Syracuse in 2015 at Carter-Finley, he had career highs of 12 rushes and 78 yards.
After Nichols was placed on a stretcher and then on a cart to transport him off the field, the Wolfpack players rushed off the NCSU sideline to surround their teammate, showing their support. Wolfpack fans, quiet for so long, gave Nichols an ovation.
Moments later, the Wolfpack scored. Jaylen Samuels ripped off a 22-yard run after play resumed, and Ryan Finley passed 20 yards to Stephen Louis for the score and a 13-0 lead
Bennett, who drew a facemask penalty on the play, is a senior linebacker who was named ACC linebacker of the week for his play in the Orange’s last game, against LSU.
Gallaspy and Samuels both ran for touchdowns in the first half for the Pack, which took a 26-7 lead.