Quick hits and notes from NC State's 30-19 victory over Cincinnati in front of 55,934 fans at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh Thursday night.
Pack continues early season roll
NC State is off to their first 3-0 start since the 2002 season that saw the Pack start out 9-0 and eventually finish 11-3 with a Gator Bowl win over Notre Dame. The last time State defeated a non-conference BCS opponent was when they knocked off South Florida in the 2005 Meineke Car Care Bowl 14-0. South Florida was in their inaugural season of the Big East. The last time State won a regular season game non-conference BCS game was Texas Tech from the Big 12 in 2003.
The win snapped a three-game Thursday night losing streak for State as well. The Pack is now 11-8 on that day of the week, and improved their record to 8-8 in nationally televised Thursday night games on ESPN. This was the 11th time NC State hosted that game on ESPN, and they are now 6-5 at Carter-Finley Stadium on ESPN's Thursday night game.
NC State now has a four-game winning streak dating back to their season-ending win over North Carolina last year. That matches two other four-game winning streaks under head coach Tom O'Brien for the longest in his four years at the school. The last time State had a longer winning streak was the nine-game start to the year in 2002.
Redshirt junior quarterback Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes Thursday night. Two of them went to players who caught their first career scoring passes. Redshirt junior Jay Smith hauled in an 16-yarder to start the scoring in the first quarter for his first career touchdown. Redshirt junior running back Curtis Underwood Jr., inserted into the backfield after redshirt freshman tailback Dean Haynes struggled with fumbles, caught a 12-yard pass for a touchdown with 1:04 left in the first half to put State up 20-7 at the break. Underwood did run for a touchdown in 2008.
The Cincinnati game was also the first appearance this year for redshirt sophomore offensive lineman R.J. Mattes. Mattes has worked his way back onto the field after tearing his ACL last year against Florida State on Oct. 31. Mattes played as a reserve at right tackle for fifth-year senior Gary Gregory, who was making his first career start. Redshirt junior Mikel Overgaard, the starter at right tackle in the first two games this year, did not dress with an elbow injury.
Also making it onto the field for the first time was redshirt freshman receiver Quintin Payton, who missed the first two games while recovering from a dislocated thumb suffered during the preseason. Payton caught a nine-yard pass on a third and six play in the third quarter.
NC State twice went for scoring drives over 90 yards, and they did so on back-to-back possessions. Both drives went 93 yards for touchdowns. The last time State twice went over 90 yards for a touchdown was 2003 against FSU in a 50-44 double overtime loss.
The last of the two 93-yard scoring drives was capped off by a 31-yard touchdown run from true freshman Mustafa Greene. Greene becomes the first freshman since Joe McIntosh to rush for a touchdown in each of his first three career games.
Moving up the charts
Wilson went over 300 yards for the sixth time in his career as he completed 26 of 40 passes for 333 yards and three scores. It was the ninth time he has thrown at least three touchdowns in a game.
A player who did not catch a touchdown but had a big evening was fifth-year senior Jarvis Williams, who caught four passes for 111 yards, all of them in the first half. Williams now has three career 100-plus yards receiving games in his career.
One streak that is over is fifth-year senior placekicker Josh Czajkowksi's consecutive made points after touchdowns. He missed an extra point right before halftime, snapping his streak at 83, which was a school record.
Spotted at the game
Once again NC State hosted a contingent of recruits from Oak Ridge (N.C.) Military Academy. Defensive tackle Carlos Gray, defensive end/linebacker Chris McCain and receiver Nigel King were all in attendance. Gray and McCain signed with UNC and California last season respectively, while King is a Maryland verbal commitment. McCain was wearing an NC State t-shirt.
Among other seniors at the game included NC State verbal commitments defensive back Juston Burris from Broughton High in Raleigh, athlete Maurice Morgan from North Lenoir High in La Grange, N.C., and linebacker Brandon Pittman from Leesville Road High in Raleigh, N.C. Senior defensive back Myer Krah from Durham (N.C.) Hillside was also there. His teammate, well-regarded junior defensive end Jamal Marcus, was with Krah.
Other juniors included the Middle Creek High in Apex, N.C., duo of receiver Jon Moore and defensive end Darius Wilkins and Randleman (N.C.) High offensive lineman Joel Suggs.
Bowl scouts from the Citrus and Orange Bowls were in the press box, as were scouts from the Cowboys, Bills, Broncos, Falcons, Chiefs, 49ers, Chargers, Panthers, Steelers and Bengals. Former NC State running back Toney Baker was also hanging around.
And on the sideline was the latest version of Tuffy, the Tamaskan Wolf Dog.