CINCINNATI, Ohio - Cincinnati could do little wrong on offense in rolling to a 44-14 victory over NC State on Thursday.
Cincinnati senior quarterback Zach Collaros accounted for 315 total yards and four touchdowns - two passing and two rushing to lead the Bearcats. Star senior running back Isaiah Pead had 167 yards on 27 carries and a score, to help the Bearcats improve to 3-1 overall.
NC State couldn't get any rhythm offensively, due in part to rushing for minus-26 yards on 22 carries. The Wolfpack also turned it over three times and fell to 2-2 on the season. NC State hosts Georgia Tech on Oct. 1 at Carter-Finley Stadium.
Cincinnati scored early and often to build a commanding 24-7 halftime lead.
NC State made the first mistake of the game when redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon threw an ill-advised pass over the middle and Cincinnati safety Drew Frey picked him off at the NCSU 35-yard line. Pead rumbled up the middle for 19 yards to get into scoring territory.
Collaros converted on third down and short to the NCSU one-yard line, which set up Pead's touchdown run with 8:39 left in the first quarter.
Collaros came up with a big third down and 17 pass to wide receiver Kenbrell Thompkins for 44 yards down to the NC State 26-yard line. The Bearcats then got a break when NC State redshirt sophomore defensive end Darryl Cato-Bishop shoved Collaros after he threw the ball on third down, drawing a penalty.
Collaros took advantage of the first down and run in for a 13-yard touchdown two plays later to give the Bearcats a 14-0 lead with 4:07 left in the first quarter.
Glennon threw his second interception of the game to middle linebacker JK Schaffer, who returned it to the UC 26-yard line. The pick was Schaffer's third of the season.
The Bearcats converted on three different third downs, leading to Collaros to a 10-yard touchdown run to give UC a 21-0 lead with 12:19 left in the second quarter.
NCSU also lost starting junior defensive tackle Brian Slay with a right ankle injury during the series, and he never returned to the game.
Cincinnati and NC State traded turnovers midway through the second quarter.
Glennon found T.J. Graham open for an apparent first down, but then Cincinnati safety Wesley Richardson stripped him and defensive back Deven Drane recovered it at the NC State 28-yard line with 7:22 left in the second quarter.
The Bearcats couldn't take advantage, due in part to a costly offsides penalty that set up third down and six. Corallos threw short to wide receiver D.J. Woods, allowing NCSU sophomore cornerback David Amerson to get his fourth interception of the season, and he was tackled at the Wolfpack three-yard line.
Graham atoned for his fumble by taking a quick out, and he then got away from cornerback Camerron Cheatham, and was off to the races for a 87-yard touchdown reception to cut the Bearcats lead to 21-7 with 4:30 left in the second quarter.
Cincinnati turned to the running game to stem any NC State momentum. Pead ran for 31 yards on five carries, and the Bearcats only passed once in setting up a 26-yard field goal by kicker Tony Miliano with 1:06 left in the half.
Cincinnati wide receiver Anthony McClung caught a pair of passes - one for 32 and the other for 24 to get to the NC State 25-yard line to start the second half. Two plays later, UC left guard Randy Martinez was called for a personal foul penalty to cause third and 16. NC State's defense came through and forced Miliano to make a 48-yard field goal to give Cincinnati a 27-7 lead with 13:03 left in the third quarter.
Cincinnati's mastery on third down continued, when Collaros hit wide receiver Alex Chisum on third and 11 for 22 yards to the Wolfpack 46-yard line. Collaros eventually hit Pead on a well-designed screen play for a 25-yard touchdown and the Bearcats went up 34-7 with 7:16 left in the third quarter.
Glennon rolled right and hit Graham for 49 yards on third down and 11, for their second touchdown connection of the game. The Wolfpack cut the lead to 34-14 with 4:18 left in the third quarter.
The score was similar to when Glennon found Tobais Palmer for a 65-yard touchdown against Wake Forest on Sept. 10.
Glennon finished the game going 25 of 36 for 334 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions, while Graham caught seven passes for 176 yards and two scores.
Cincinnati didn't take long to answer. Back-to-back long runs for Pead set up another Bearcats touchdown. He went 28 yards on the first one, and four plays later, sprinted 33 yards down to the NC State four-yard line.
The runs set up Collaros' second touchdown pass of the game, a four-yard toss to Thompkins and UC surged to a 41-13 lead with 1:26 left in the third quarter.
Cincinnati extended the lead and took time off the clock with an 11-play drive that culminated in Miliano hitting a 22-yard field goal to extend the lead to 44-13 with 7:20 left in the fourth quarter.