Wolfpack Down Mountaineers in Season Opener, 23-10
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Andre Brown ran for 125 yards and a touchdown Saturday to lead North Carolina State past Division I-AA national champion Appalachian State 23-10 in the season opener for both teams.
Toney Baker added 43 yards and a score for the Wolfpack, which improved to 6-1 in openers under coach Chuck Amato. Marcus Stone also found Darrell Blackman for a 14-yard score, while the defense showed plenty of life after losing three NFL first-round draft picks in the spring -- including top overall selection Mario Williams.
That unit held Appalachian State to 133 total yards -- including minus-5 in the third quarter when the game hung in the balance -- while forcing two turnovers and finishing with four sacks.
Kevin Richardson ran for a score for the Mountaineers, who fought much of the way but couldn't overcome a series of costly mistakes and remained winless in six tries against the Wolfpack.
Not that the N.C. State offense looked much better. Stone went 7-for-13 for 36 yards and a touchdown while the offense finished with 242 total yards. The only spark came from Brown and Baker, a double-back attack that Amato figures to rely on heavily in 2006.
Brown had a spectacular 43-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, ending it when he leapt from about the 5-yard line and dove for the right pylon from behind a pair of blockers for a 9-0 lead. Baker added a 9-yard score that made it 23-10 late in the third quarter, helping the Wolfpack take firm control of the contest as the second half wore on.
The last time the Mountaineers took the field, they walked off with a 21-16 title-clinching win against Northern Iowa that provided the crowning glory on what was already a brilliant legacy for longtime coach Jerry Moore. It is the only NCAA football championship for a North Carolina-based program.
They had several chances in this one, though their first offensive possession turned out to foreshadow their offensive struggles to come. After being whistled for a false start, a shotgun snap sailed over the head of quarterback Trey Elder and rolled into the end zone for a safety.
The Mountaineers pulled to 9-7 with a 1-yard run from Richardson, keyed by a 39-yard catch from Dexter Jackson, late in the first quarter. But a defensive-holding penalty on third down extended a 10-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Blackman's score to take the momentum right back.
The costliest mistake came after the Mountaineers returned a fumble deep inside Wolfpack territory in the second quarter. Facing a third-and-goal from the 5, Elder rolled to his right and had T.J. Courman open on the right side. But instead of lobbing the ball to the receiver, he tried to zip it past Miguel Scott, who jumped to make an interception at the 3 and end the scoring threat.
Finally, the Mountaineers committed a pair of personal-foul penalties on the drive that ended with Baker's TD with 5:14 left in the third quarter.