NC State

AJ Dillon and Boston College run over NC State football

N.C. State couldn’t stop the run and couldn’t run the football.

There’s no cure for that all-day headache. Boston College ran for 429 yards, 223 by junior running back A.J. Dillon, for a 45-24 home win over the Wolfpack on Saturday.

N.C. State (4-3, 1-2 ACC) had 2 rushing yards going into the fourth quarter and finished with 56.

The Wolfpack went into the game ranked first in the ACC in run defense. The Eagles averaged (7.2 yards per carry) more than triple what the first six opponents had averaged per carry (2.3).

“Our defense is built on stopping the run and we didn’t do that,” senior safety Jarius Morehead said after the game. “We are in the locker room and it’s bad. Four-hundred yards rushing, that’s horrible.”

Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren shuffled his quarterback deck again, and actually used all three of his options on Saturday — plus another big pass from receiver Thayer Thomas — but nothing helped the rushing offense.

Without its two presumed starting tackles and best run-blocking tight end (and leading returning rusher from last year), N.C. State had minus-4 rushing yards at the half.

“For us, it’s the multitude of things,” Doeren told the media after the game. “It’s not one thing. It’s not one tackle, or that tackle, or this guy or that guy. There are a lot of players that aren’t playing. It’s not an excuse. The guys that are there have to take advantage of the opportunity and play better. We have to do everything we can, schematically, to give them the opportunity to make plays.”

Dillon and his backup, David Bailey, made plenty of plays. They each broke the 100-yard mark by halftime. Dillon finished with three touchdowns and Bailey added 181 yards and two long TD runs, of 54 and 48 yards, to break the game open in the second quarter.

BC’s final rushing tally equaled the second-most allowed by an N.C. State defense in school history.

“I don’t know where to start,” Doeren said. “We didn’t tackle well, we didn’t set edges, we didn’t play low enough, we didn’t have good enough technique. They did a better job than we did is the bottom line. They pushed us around at times.”

The Eagles (4-3, 2-2) used their open date wisely and fine-tuned their defense. They entered the game No. 121 in total defense. Freshman quarterback Devin Leary came off the bench to throw for 259 yards and three touchdowns, all in the second half, but there were a lot of empty calories in those numbers.

BC led 24-3 at the half and 31-3 after Dillon’s first touchdown run of the third quarter.

A “pick six” by BC’s defense, an 8-yard interception return by cornerback Jason Maitre, gave the Eagles a 7-0 lead and accelerated Doeren’s decision to replace starter Bailey Hockman with Leary.

Hockman completed 4 of 10 passes for 27 yards and didn’t play after the first quarter. Matt McKay, who started the first five games, came on in the second half in red-zone situations to try and jump-start N.C. State’s offense.

It didn’t quite work out. Leary ended up throwing a pair of 6-yard touchdown passes to Thomas and a 15-yarder to tight end Cary Angeline to account for N.C. State’s touchdowns.

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First down

N.C. State was penalized twice (for 20 yards). That’s a season-low in penalties and yards.


N.C. State freshman receiver Devin Carter caught six passes for a season-best 140 yards.


The offense stalled out inside the BC 5-yard line twice while it was still a close game.


De’Von Graves, who normally plays backup strong safety, got his first start at cornerback with Nick McCloud (who has missed six games), Teshaun Smith and Chris Ingram sidelined with injuries.

Key numbers

3 Road losses, in as many games, for N.C. State this season.

429 Rushing yards for Boston College, its most since a 2013 win over N.C. State, and equal to Michigan State’s total against the Wolfpack in 1975. Only Georgia Tech (479 in 2014) has ever run for more against a Wolfpack defense in school history.

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Joe Giglio has worked at The N&O since 1995 and has regularly reported on the ACC since 2005. He grew up in Ringwood, N.J. and graduated from N.C. State.
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