Quick hits and notes from NC State's easy 52-14 win over The Citadel in front of 55,145 fans at Carter-Finley Stadium Saturday night.
The Shadrach Thornton show
By now, you probably have heard that true freshman Shadrach Thornton got the start at running back, and you probably heard that he did pretty good. But in case you did not, here was his final stat line: 21 carries for 145 yards and two touchdowns and four catches for 26 yards.
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Thornton is NC State's fifth true freshman to play a game this year, joining receiver Charlie Hegedus, quarterback Manny Stocker, offensive tackle Quincy McKinney and linebacker M.J. Salahuddin.
Thornton became the first freshman running back to gain at least 100 yards in a game since Andre Brown, currently starting for the New York Giants, gained 248 yards against Southern Miss in 2005. The last rookie to go for 100 in his first career contest was Joe McIntosh in 1981 when he ran for 131 yards versus Richmond.
Thornton's rushing total helped State gain 282 yards rushing, the most since they had 297 yards in the aforementioned Southern Miss contest.
The last time a back ran for over 100 yards in a game for NCSU was last November when senior James Washington, who missed Saturday's game with an injury, rushed for 111 yards in the 13-0 win over UNC.
Redshirt sophomore Tony Creecy was also hurt, and redshirt sophomore Mustafa Greene's status remained unchanged. He has been suspended since the Connecticut game.
Rashard Smith to the house
Redshirt junior receiver Rashard Smith scored NC State's first non-offensive touchdown of the season when he returned a punt 73 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter. The last kick return for a score was by T.J. Graham in last year's season opener.
Smith's punt returned tied the 13th longest in NC State history.
Another pick for junior corner David Amerson
Amerson's first quarter pick gave him three for the season and 16 for his career, which ties the school record for career picks. Lost in Amerson's interception total is that the Pack tends to do well in games he does pick off a pass. The Pack is 10-2 in games that include an Amerson interception.
NC State gained 515 yards of total offense, 108 more than its previous season-best when they had 407 yards against Tennessee in the opener. It was also the most total offense in the era of fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Glennon, who finished the contest with completing 19 of 24 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown and also rushed for a pair of scores.
Glennon has completed 58 of 88 passes for 694 yards and five touchdowns without an interception since his four-pick performance against Tennessee. His favorite target, redshirt junior receiver Quintin Payton, had five catches for 100 yards Saturday, giving him two 100-yard receiving games this year. He had 129 versus the Vols in the opener.
Glennon's favorite scoring target, redshirt sophomore Bryan Underwood, caught two passes for 25 yards and most importantly a 20-yard score. That makes four straight games with a TD reception to start the year for Underwood, who missed a good chunk of preseason practices after having knee surgery.
The offense helped produce 42 first half points, the most in the opening half since they poured on 45 points against Murray State in 2009. It matched the 42 they had in the second half against Maryland in last year's regular season finale.
Defense stiffens up
NC State held The Citadel to 226 total yards, 199 of them on the ground. Sixty-five yards came on a busted assignment that led to Bulldogs running back Darien Robinson bursting through for a touchdown. Robinson finished with 102 yards on nine carries, becoming the first running back since Cincinnati's Isaiah Pead exactly one year ago Saturday night.
The Pack otherwise had a performance that even Tom O'Brien complimented after the game. State continued its recent trend of being tough on third downs. The Citadel was just 2 of 9 on third downs, and did not convert until early in the third quarter. That snapped a streak of 16 straight third down stops that dated back to the Connecticut game.
In addition to the tailbacks, two linemen suffered injuries during the game. Redshirt sophomore defensive tackle Thomas Teal left the game at halftime with an ankle injury, and fifth-year senior right tackle Andrew Wallace left in the third quarter with a foot injury.
What the win means
NC State is 3-1 on the season, all non-conference action. They open ACC play Saturday at Miami, who is also 3-1 after an overtime win at Georgia Tech Saturday afternoon. The Hurricanes are 2-0 in ACC action, both wins coming on the road.
The Pack improves to 5-0 all-time against The Citadel. This was the second-most lopsided win in series history. Back in 1983 State shut out the Bulldogs 45-0.
Spotted at the game
A rep from the Champs Sports Bowl was hanging out in the press box. On the field, basketball recruit Kyle Washington from Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, N.H., was on hand.
From the football recruiting side, the following commits were there:
Tight end Chris Burton, Danville (Va.) George Washington
Athlete Pharoah McKever, Tabor City (N.C.) South Columbus
Offensive lineman Tylar Reagan, Fruit Cove (Fla.) Bartram Trail
Offensive tackle Patrick Roane, Hope Mills (N.C.) Gray's Creek
Cornerback Jack Tocho, Charlotte (N.C.) Indpendence
Among uncommitted prospects was linebacker Marquel Lee from Westlake High in Waldorf, Md.