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Freak knee injury ends NC State’s Dakwa Nichols’ career

Teammates check on Dakwa Nichols before he is taken off the field during the first half of N.C. State's game against Syracuse at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C. Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017.
Teammates check on Dakwa Nichols before he is taken off the field during the first half of N.C. State's game against Syracuse at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C. Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. ehyman@newsobserver.com

N.C. State running back Dakwa Nichols had knee surgery on Sunday, ending his college career.

Nichols, a fifth-year senior, tore the patellar tendon in both knees in N.C. State’s 33-25 win over Syracuse on Saturday.

Syracuse linebacker Parris Bennett tackled Nichols by the facemask at 1:23 in the first quarter. Nichols got twisted down awkwardly with both knees bent under his weight. He was treated at length by the medical personnel on the field and then immediately taken to Rex Hospital, where his surgery was performed on Sunday.

“I’ve never seen that in my life,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said of Nichols’ injury to both knees. “It was crazy, but he’s doing well.”

Running backs coach Des Kitchings and Nichols’ family were with Nichols at the hospital, and Doeren said he was able to talk with Nichols on Monday. Doeren said Nichols, who rushed for 37 yards and a touchdown in five games this season, was in good spirits.

“It’s really disappointing thing for a great young man, but he is doing well,” Doeren said.

In other injury news, Doeren expects safety Dexter Wright, who has been out since the opener with a groin injury, to be able to play against Louisville on Thursday night.

Wright’s availability will depend on how he progresses during a short week of practice, Doeren said.

Doeren didn’t anticipate any lingering injury problems from the Syracuse win for running back Nyheim Hines or receiver Kelvin Harmon.

Hines limped off the field at 10:19 in the second quarter, after a 39-yard run, but it was just cramps, Doeren said. Hines finished the game without any other trouble. He ran for a career-best 115 yards.

Harmon landed awkwardly on his right shoulder at 7:41 in the third quarter and was taken back to the locker room for treatment.

“He’s OK,” Doeren said of Harmon, who is second on the team with 301 receiving yards. “He’s just got a bruise.”

Senior cornerback Mike Stevens was able to make his season debut against Syracuse. Stevens missed the first four games with a sprained right knee.

Stevens, who played 33 snaps on defense against the Orange, made three tackles and also got beat on a deep route.

“I think that’s what he needed,” Doeren said. “He needed to get out there and play.”

NC State head football coach Dave Doeren talks about the Wolfpack's victory over the Syracuse Orange during a media availability Monday, October 2, 2017.

Joe Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio

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