Wolfpack manhandles MAC visitor Central Michigan
Shadrach Thornton got his starting job back for N.C. State Saturday — and did his best to keep it.
Thornton and freshman Matt Dayes each had long scoring runs during the four-touchdown second quarter that propelled the Wolfpack past Central Michigan 48-14 on Saturday.
“When you get your spot back, man, it means a lot more to you and you take nothing for granted,” said Thornton, the team’s leading rusher last year. “You run every down as if it’s your last, because you never know.”
Thornton finished with 71 yards, and his 29-yard scoring run came shortly before Dayes’ 42-yard TD for N.C. State — which scored touchdowns on offense, defense and special teams.
“It’s fun to be in a game” like that, first-year coach Dave Doeren said.
D.J. Green returned an interception 37 yards for the first score and Rashard Smith brought a punt back 67 yards for a TD to help N.C. State (3-1) build a 35-0 halftime lead.
“It’s tough to come back from that against a good football team like N.C. State,” Central Michigan coach Dan Enos said.
Pete Thomas was 14 of 20 for 244 yards with a late 80-yard touchdown pass to Bryan Underwood — his first TD pass since transferring in from Colorado State.
Thomas also capped the Wolfpack’s big second quarter by running 8 yards for a score.
Cooper Rush threw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Titus Davis on the first play of the fourth quarter for the Chippewas (1-4), but also was intercepted three times.
Maurice Shoemaker-Gilmore added a 38-yard touchdown run for Central Michigan — the only Mid-American Conference team to beat Doeren during his successful two-year run at Northern Illinois.
But the Chippewas didn’t advance further than the N.C. State 21 during the decisive first half. The Wolfpack finished by outrushing Central Michigan 239-94 and holding a 483-259 advantage in total yardage.
“Our lines and tight ends were getting beat, and our running backs couldn’t do anything,” Enos said. “When you get penetration like they did, your running backs are in trouble.”
Thornton made four starts last season but was suspended for the season opener following an offseason arrest and wasn’t listed on the two-deep roster issued earlier in the week by Doeren.
Thornton said that Doeren told him that “if you walk over coals, you’ll appreciate it more” and that he’s “just grinding, giving my all, showing the team that I want to be here and that I’m committed to them.”
He entered as the Wolfpack’s most efficient rusher this season, taking his only previous carry of the year 21 yards for a touchdown against Clemson last week.
This time, his scoring burst up the middle with 11:08 left in the half started N.C. State’s big second quarter and put the Wolfpack up 14-0.
Dayes then capped the Wolfpack’s next drive with his long scoring run — and at that point, they outrushed the Chippewas 174-3.
Those inside runs came as a result of the chess match between the two coaches: Central Michigan adjusted to the jet sweeps run early by the N.C. State receivers, so the Wolfpack counterpunched by pounding it between the tackles.
“I knew the inside run game would be good because of that,” Doeren said. “We’re just a couple strains away from popping some of these plays.”
The Wolfpack’s other touchdown in the return game came on Central Michigan’s first possession after Dayes’ touchdown.
Smith fielded Richie Hogan’s punt at his own 33 and broke first toward the right sideline, then back across the field for the touchdown.
That gave the Wolfpack TDs in all three phases in the same game for the first time since a victory over Liberty in 2011, according to STATS.
Thomas then scored on a keeper with 3:46 left in the half to cap the Wolfpack’s 28-point second quarter and put them up 35-0.
Green got things started for N.C. State with the team’s first interception of the season on Central Michigan’s second play from scrimmage, leaping to snag Rush’s throw and running untouched into the end zone. The other two picks came in the fourth quarter.
“They usually come in bunches” Doeren said.
|NC STATE 48, CENT. MICHIGAN 14|
NCSt_Green 37 interception return (Sade kick), 12:16.
NCSt_Thornton 29 run (Sade kick), 11:08.
NCSt_Dayes 42 run (Sade kick), 8:53.
NCSt_R.Smith 67 punt return (Sade kick), 6:54.
NCSt_Thomas 8 run (Sade kick), 3:46.
NCSt_FG Sade 46, 3:55.
CMU_T.Davis 13 pass from Rush (Coluzzi kick), 14:56.
CMU_Shoemaker-Gilmore 38 run (Coluzzi kick), 11:42.
NCSt_Underwood 80 pass from Thomas (Sade kick), 9:28.
NCSt_FG Sade 34, 6:37.
|Time of Possession||26:13||33:47|
RUSHING_Cent. Michigan, Shoemaker-Gilmore 5-63, Garland 5-27,
Lavallii 14-16, Rush 2-(minus 12). NC State, Thornton 13-71,
Underwood 3-42, R.Smith 5-41, Dayes 3-37, Shirreffs 7-29, Thomas 10-18,
Hall 4-5, Creecy 4-3, Leatham 1-2, Taylor 1-(minus 4),
Team 1-(minus 5).
PASSING_Cent. Michigan, Rush 16-37-3-165. NC State,
RECEIVING_Cent. Michigan, T.Davis 5-80, Lavallii 4-20, Butler 3-32,
Rice 1-11, Flory 1-9, Garland 1-8, Con.Odykirk 1-5. NC State,
Underwood 5-148, R.Smith 3-39, Ramos 2-18, Payton 1-12, Copeland 1-10,
Dayes 1-10, Cherry 1-7.