Quick hits and notes from NC State's 31-7 workmanlike win over South Alabama in front of 54,132 fans at Carter-Finley Stadium Saturday evening in NCSU's home opener.
A game of firsts
Two of NC State's receivers caught their first career touchdowns. Redshirt junior Quintin Payton, who has enjoyed an early-season breakout, added five receptions for 61 yards to his season totals, tying him with fifth-year senior Tobais Palmer for team-high 12 catches this year. Payton also leads State with 238 receiving yards.
His 13-yard touchdown catch on a fade route in the end zone was Payton's first career score and gave the Pack a 28-0 second quarter lead. NCSU's first touchdown came when Glennon connected with redshirt junior Rashard Smith for a 33-yard score.
Smith, a converted cornerback, had just two career catches for a total of five yards entering tonight. The 33-yard score, Smith's first ever score, was his lone catch of the evening, but Smith averaged a solid 9.0 yards per punt return on three runs.
True freshman quarterback Manny Stocker saw his first action. He only had one pass play called, but Stocker was unable to get a throw off before being flushed out of the pocket and taken down for a two-yard loss.
Redshirt freshman center Joe Thuney also saw his first career snaps.
Another pick for Amerson
Junior cornerback David Amerson intercepted his second pass of the season and the 15th of his career. He now needs one more to tie Eric Williams (1978-82) and Art Rooney (1936-38) for the school record for most interceptions.
Amerson though was not the only player to have a big night on defense. The Pack had seven sacks, more than any they had in a single game last year. Redshirt freshman corner Juston Burris, sophomore defensive tackle T.Y. McGill and sophomore linebacker Rodman Noel all had their first career sacks.
Sophomore linebacker Brandon Pittman had a career-high with eight tackles, including two for loss, his first official tackles for losses in his career. Redshirt freshman safety Hakim Jones added his first career-interception.
Glennon connected with redshirt junior receiver Bryan Underwood on a 44-yard touchdown in the first quarter, giving Underwood three straight games to open the season with one score. That's one more touchdown than he had all of last season. Four of Underwood's five touchdowns have gone at least 33 yards.
Glennon was 24 of 34 for 257 yards and three touchdowns passing and did not have an interception. In two games against South Alabama, Glennon was 41 of 54 for 531 yards and seven TDs without a pick.
Glennon's three touchdowns give him 37 of his career, one behind Terry Harvey (1991, 93-95) for fifth all-time in school history.
Defense stiffens up
The Pack gave up some yards, especially in the fourth quarter, but overall they had a solid performance. Highlighting their effort was the third and fourth down defenses. NC State did not allow South Alabama to convert a third down (0 of 11) or fourth (0 of 1). That has not happened for NCSU's defense since 1992 when NC State forced Virginia Tech to go 0 for 12 on third downs.
NC State announced before the game that redshirt sophomore and leading rusher Mustafa Greene was suspended and would not play. Redshirt sophomore Tony Creecy got his second start of the year and led State with 15 carries for 68 yards and a touchdown.
Greene's absence allowed State to get an extended look at fifth-year senior tailback Brandon Barnes. Coming into Saturday, Barnes had 28 career rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown. Against South Alabama, Barnes carried 13 times for a net of 10 yards and caught two passes for five yards.
Barnes' career-high for carries in a game is 19 against Murray State in 2009 when he ran for 52 yards and his lone career score.
What the win means
NC State improves to 2-1 on the season, and they have gone 12-2 at home since 2010. State is also 2-0 now against South Alabama and is scheduled to end the three-game series with the Jaguars with a visit to Mobile Sept. 5, 2015.
Head coach Tom O'Brien gets his 35th win at NC State, improving his record to 35-31. O'Brien is sixth all-time in wins at NCSU, having broken a tie with Lou Holtz with his triumph at Connecticut. Beattie Feathers (1944-51) is fifth with 37 victories.
It was also the 110th overall win of O'Brien's career.
Spotted at the game
Several commitments were in attendance:
Wide receiver Jalen McDaniel, Jack Britt High in Fayetteville, N.C.
Athlete Pharoah McKever, South Columbus High in Tabor City, N.C.
Offensive tackle Patrick Roane, Gray's Creek High in Hope Mills, N.C.
A pair of junior linemen from South Carolina were also spotted:
Christian Taylor, White Knoll High in Lexington, S.C.
Jake Whitley, North Augusta (S.C.) High
A scout from the New York Giants was also spotted in the press box.