NC State had six out of its seven touchdowns go 21 yards or more Saturday in the second annual Kay Yow Spring Game at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The Red team, which mostly consisted of the second string offense and first string defense, exploded to pull out a 31-21 victory over the White squad in front of an estimated 25,372 fans. Three different NC State players were involved in two scoring plays apiece.
NCSU coach Tom O'Brien said he held out numerous players because of injuries to ensure that the team would be healthy and ready for August.
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"We only played about 46 scholarship guys," O'Brien said. "We have over 20-some guys that we held out because of injury. Those 20 guys, with the exception of a couple, should be back by the first of August, which is the intent was.
"We had to get everybody fixed, so we could start the year healthy. If we suffer a little bit in the spring for it, so be it. We can't go through a fall like we did last year."
NC State rising redshirt sophomore quarterback Mike Glennon followed up his impressive showing from last year's spring game, with an even better performance. The lanky 6-foot-6, 217-pounder showed off his strong arm by going 21 of 38 for 423 yards and three touchdowns, but also two interceptions (the second one came on the last play of the game).
"I think I played well, but there is always room for improvement," Glennon said. "I'll have the summer workouts and want to get bigger, faster, stronger. I want to watch more film, and come out here and throw some more."
Glennon and the first-string offense struck first with a six-yard toss to all-ACC tight end George Bryan, a redshirt junior, with 12:35 remaining in the first quarter.
The Red responded with three unanswered touchdowns behind walk-on senior quarterback Daniel Imhoff, and walk-on freshman running back Travis Leggett. Imhoff went 11 of 24 for 221 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. Leggett didn't crack the end zone, but carried the team with an impressive 129 yards on 21 carries, including a 43-yard run.
However, the first touchdown came off a trick play that fooled the White defense.
Imhoff tossed a lateral to junior receiver T.J. Graham, who then turned and found an open Jay Smith for a 49-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7 with 11:48 left in the first quarter. Smith, a redshirt junior, struck again with a 27-yard touchdown from Imhoff to give the Red squad a 14-7 lead with 5:42 left in the first quarter.
Smith had a team-high four receptions for 96 yards and two scores for the Red squad.
"It felt good and it has been a long time since I've actually been in a game situation, and I felt like that," Smith said. "I was pretty excited myself. I plan to work hard this summer, so I can actually do that in a real game, and see where it goes this summer."
Sophomore tight end Asa Watson had the next big play, when he took advantage of a defensive breakdown to spring 86 yards for a touchdown, and the Red surged to a 21-7 lead with 3:04 remaining in the first quarter. Watson finished the game with two catches for 101 yards and the lone score.
Between Watson and Bryan, the Wolfpack tight ends had a good day, but redshirt freshman Anthony Talbert did have to leave the contest early because of an injury.
"Asa had a great day and that is a credit to him," Bryan said. "He's been working his butt off all spring, along with all the other tight ends."
Glennon and senior receiver Owen Spencer got going to tie the game up. Spencer caught a 44-yard pass in the second quarter, and then went 93 yards for a score with 3:13 left in the third. The speedster finished with four receptions for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
"It was a blast and good to see everybody come out here and have a good time," Spencer said. "That is what it is all about, giving the fans and the kids something to see."
The Red squad took the lead again thanks to a 48-yard field goal with 2:01 left in the game from redshirt junior Josh Czajkowski, who kicked for both teams.
Glennon and the White team couldn't get anything going on its final drive, turning the ball over on downs. Imhoff put the icing on the cake with a beautiful 21-yard pass to Graham to give the Red squad a 31-21 lead with 1:09 left in the game.
Glennon played for both teams last year, but only for the White squad this time around. Part of that might be due to Imhoff's improvement. Returning starting quarterback Russell Wilson is playing baseball for the Wolfpack this spring.
"It was a great time, and I've been working really hard," Imhoff said. "I've been trying to learn our offense and go through our progressions. I just had a blast out there. I had a lot of fun.
"It was a dream come true to play in front of a lot of people like this."
Leggett also took advantage of his opportunity. Running backs Brandon Barnes and Curtis Underwood both got injured this spring, leaving Leggett and sophomore Zach Gentry the chance to rush the football.
Leggett ripped off a 43-yard run on the Red team's second series.
"I saw the hole and my eyes just got big," Leggett said. "I was like, 'This is it, this is it.' When the play was over, I was like, 'This is what I wanted.' I want the chance to get that scholarship.
"I've been waiting for this opportunity to show what I can do. I've been waiting a long time."
NCSU White team statistics
James Washington: 12 carries, 27 yards, 2.2 avg
Owen Spencer: 1 carry, 3 yards, 3.0 avg
Mike Glennon: 21 of 38 for 423 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT
Owen Spencer: 4 catches, 165 yards, 2 TD
Darrell Davis: 4 catches, 97 yards
Jarvis Williams: 4 catches, 60 yards
George Bryan: 4 catches, 55 yards, 1 TD
Jeff Ruiz: 6 punts for 245 yards, 40.8 avg., 2 inside 20
Asante Cureton: 7 tackles (3UA-4A), 1.0 TFL
A.J. Ferguson: 7 tackles (3UA-4A), 1.0 sack, 1.5 TFL
William Beasley: 6 tackles (3UA-3A)
Darryl Cato-Bishop: 5 tackles (3UA-2A), 1.0 sack, 2.5 TFL
NCSU Red team statistics
Travis Leggett: 21 carries, 129 yards, 6.1 avg.
Zach Gentry: 8 carries, 19 yards, 2.4 avg.
Daniel Imhoff: 11 of 24 for 221 yards, 3 TD, 1 Int.
T.J. Graham: 1 of 1 for 49 yards, 1 TD
Jay Smith: 4 catches, 96 yards, 2 TD
Asa Watson: 2 catches, 101 yards, 1 TD
Graham: 2 catches, 34 yards, 1 TD
Jeff Ruiz: 7 punts for 270 yards, 38.6 avg., 3 inside 20 and one touchback
Terrell Manning: 7 tackles (3UA-4A), 1.0 sack, 1.0 TFL
Brandan Bishop: 5 tackles (3UA-2A), 1.0 TFL
Earl Wolff: 5 tackles (3UA-2A)
Audie Cole: 5 tackles (2UA-3A)