Wilson ACC Linebacker of the Week; Ekwonu Top Lineman

Brett Friedlander

Payton Wilson had a tough act to follow this week after his older brother Bryse pitched six strong innings to win Game 4 of the National League Championship Series for the Atlanta Braves. But the redshirt sophomore linebacker managed to put togther his own standout performance against Duke. 

His 19 tackles in Saturday's 31-20 win against Duke were the most by a State defender since Earl Wolff had 19 against Clemson in 1992. He also had two interceptions and half sack. He also found the time to tell his mom he loves here during a postgame Zoom.

Monday, he was recognized for his effort by being named the ACC's Linebacker of the Week. 

Teammate Ickey Ekwonu was also honored, earning the league's Offensive Lineman of the Week award for the second time this season. He also won it in State's season opening win against Wake Forest.

"Effort makes up for everything," Wilson said after Saturday's win. "(Defensive coordinator Tony) Gibson put me in a great spot to make plays and we had a great week of practice. Coach (Dave) Doeren has been telling us since Day One that the way we practice is the way we’re going to play. We had a great week of practice, which led to a pretty good performance."

Wilson's first interception came with Duke threatening inside the red zone and prevented the Wolfpack from falling behind farther after a blocked punt staked the Blue Devils to an early 7-0 head start.

The second came late in the game, setting up the field goal that clinched State's third straight victory.

Wilson's first interception came with Duke threatening inside the red zone and prevented the Wolfpack from falling behind farther after a blocked punt staked the Blue Devils to an early 7-0 head start.

The second came late in the game, setting up the field goal that clinched State's third straight victory.

Despite missing the Wolfpack's game at Virginia Tech, its only loss, Wilson leads the team in tackles with 44. He also has 4.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks to go along with his team-leading two interceptions.

Ekwonu, who has played both guard and tackle this season, played 72 snaps at left tackle against Duke on Saturday. 

The 6-foot-4, 324-pound sophomore graded out at 90% and did not have allow a hurry, a quarterback hit or a sack. He also had five knockdown blocks, increasing his total to 26 for the season.

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