Photo Gallery - Peyton Williams
Photo Gallery - Jack Tarr
Complete Game Stats
RALEIGH, N.C. - Mike Glennon's career-high four touchdowns on 17-of-20 passing torched the South Alabama secondary and lifted NC State to a 35-13 win Saturday night at Carter-Finley Stadium. Glennon's .860 completion percentage represents the highest single game total since Philip Rivers notched a .866 against Western Carolina in 2003.
Taylor Gentry and T.J. Graham were the twin beneficiaries of Glennon's big night. Gentry claimed the first multi-touchdown game of his career on two receptions, while Graham became the first receiver since Jerrico Cotchery in 2003 to post back-to-back 100-yard receiving games.
"I think we did a good job in the passing game," said NC State head coach Tom O'Brien. "Mike [Glennon] did a great job finding T.J [Graham] and Taylor [Gentry] in some important spots, but we have to do a better job in the protection aspect."
Brandan Bishop and David Amerson each added an interception. Amerson's third pick of the season, good for the ACC lead, turned away a driving Jaguar offense at the Pack 7. Bishop's led to Gentry's first touchdown grab.
Bishop also paced the defense with nine tackles. Darryl Cato-Bishop led the Pack with two sacks. Audie Cole and Markus Kuhn claimed two additional sacks for the Wolfpack defensive front. Cole also managed three tackles for loss.
James Washington finished as the leading rusher with 55 yards on 16 carries and a touchdown, Curtis Underwood went for 51 yards on 10 carries, and Tony Creecy saw his first action of the season, picking up 15 yards on three rushes.
"The offense is starting to get better every week," said O'Brien. "THe line is hustling and starting to communicate better. That's a real positive for us."
South Alabama's initial possession of the third quarter came to a close when a tipped ball settled into the waiting arms of Brandan Bishop. Bishop returned the interception 36 yards to the Jaguar 29. Washington did the dirty work, picking up 25 yards on five-straight rushes, before Glennon connected with Gentry for the second time to give State a 21-3 advantage.
South Alabama bounced back after the Wolfpack touchdown, stringing together its most productive drive of the night. Kendall Houston kicked things off with a 19-yard run, but C.J. Bennett's 37 yards on two completions made up the meat of the drive. Demetre Baker took it the final few steps on an 8-yard touchdown run to cut the Pack lead to 21-10.
On the ensuing possession, a fumbled snap put the Jaguars back in business, taking over at the NC State 39. The Pack defense answered the call, holding South Alabama to a 44-yard field goal attempt that sailed wide left.
The Wolfpack offense returned to the field carrying that momentum, and reeled off 73 yards in nine plays to take a 28-10 lead. The drive included Glennon finding Tobais Palmer on a five-yard out for a crucial fourth-down conversion. Underwood's 11-yard scamper capped the drive.
South Alabama added a field goal to trim the lead to 15, but Glennon and Graham had other plans, sealing the game with a 67-yard strike down the middle of the field for the 35-13 win.
Graham put the Wolfpack in prime position with a 46-yard return on the opening kick. Six plays later Bryant Underwood ran a crossing route and managed to turn the corner on two South Alabama defenders, picking up 30 yards on the play. Washington did the rest, bulldozing his way into the end zone to put NC State on top 7-0.
After forcing a punt from the Jaguars, Glennon and Graham wasted no time, hooking up on a 40-yard go route to switch the field one play into the drive. With NC State threatening, South Alabama's defense rose to the occasion. Ken Barfield forced a fumble at the tail end of Washington's six-yard run on the next play, stalling the Wolfpack drive.
South Alabama converted the NC State miscue into points, going 42 yards in nine plays. Houston provided the key play, a 24-yard run off tackle, and Jordan Means sealed the drive with a 46-yard field goal.
NC State made the opening drive of the second quarter count with Glennon finding Gentry coming out of the backfield for a 1-yard score to take a 14-3 lead, but the play prior to the touchdown nearly resulted in disaster. B.J. Scott's helmet popped the ball out of Underwood's grasp, sending it spiraling into the air. South Alabama's Anton Graphenreed made a leaping catch to corral the loose ball, but failed to secure it on the ground. NC State's Mikel Overgaard managed to wrestle it away in the pile to keep the drive going.
Amerson denied the Jaguars on their next possession, sliding over to pick off a deep ball thrown to a wide open South Alabama receiver at the NC State 7. The Pack offense took over from there, keeping the ball on the ground to hold a 14-3 halftime lead.
Next week, NC State travels to Cincinnati for a Thursday night contest. Coverage of the game can be seen on ESPN with kickoff slated for 8 p.m.