Sept. 22, 2012
Raleigh, N.C. -
Shadrach Thornton’s name wasn’t on the NC State football depth chart prior to Saturday night’s contest against the Citadel Bulldogs.
But because of some unforeseen circumstances, the hard-running, versatile freshman running back found himself starting his first collegiate contest at Carter-Finley Stadium.
He certainly took advantage of his unusual opportunity.
The Hinesville, Ga., native finished the game with 145 yards on 21 carries and is the first NC State running back to go over the 100 yard mark this season and the first Pack freshman to gain at least 100 yards since Andre Brown rung up 248 against Southern Mississippi in 2005.
Thornton was also the first freshman back to go over the century mark in his first collegiate game since Joe McIntosh had 131 yards against the Richmond Spiders in 1981. He also caught four passes for 26 yards.
Like most freshman, Thornton had been a member of the scout team until he was called upon by head coach Tom O’Brien at the beginning of the week to prepare to play.
“He was the only healthy back which we had,” the State coach emphasized in his post game press conference. “He really progressed by the fourth scrimmage. He’s a good football player.”
O’Brien said the only question mark was whether he could do all of the other things besides running the football that Pack backs are called on to do: catching the ball and blocking. He passed with flying colors and O’Brien said he will be part of the regular rotation of backs moving forward.
Thornton quite naturally had a case of nerves prior to the game, but said after his initial contact, his demeanor settled down into game mode.
“I buckled down and my offensive line and my teammates told me to relax,” he noted. “I got my butterflies out and got my feet wet.”
Discussing his pass-catching ability, Thornton was pleased with his performance and gave quarterback Michael Glennon the credit for his success.
“Michael is a great quarterback and he put me in the right position.”
Did Shadrach Thornton ever dream about starting a game as a freshman?
“I dreamed it,” he said. “I wrote it down, it was one of my goals.”
After the Wolfpack defense stopped the Bulldogs on the visitors’ first possession, Thornton sparked a Wolfpack 75-yard, seven-play drive to paydirt.
He took a handoff and ran six yards on the Pack’s first play of the contest, and later ran a sweep for nine yards to the Citadel 19 before scampering 19 yards to score State’s first touchdown at the 7:32 mark of the first quarter.
On the Pack’s second possession, he ran another nine yards to the Bulldog’s seven and then scooted to the end zone on the next play at 4:39 to put the Pack team for good at 14-7.
He produced yardage on the ground on the next two scoring drives and also caught two passes of four and 13 yards while circling out of the backfield,
The 6-foot-1, 200-pounder had a brilliant career at Liberty County High School in Hinesville – rushing for 1,738 yards and 17 touchdowns as a senior. Those statistics pushed him to the top of the conference in rushing and he ranked sixth in the state.
Thornton rambled for over 200 yards on four occasions, averaging 7.15 yards per carry. In addition, he also showed his versatility by throwing for 248 yards and a pair of scores.
His coach utilized his durability and multiplicity of skills by playing him on the punt and kickoff return special teams.
By George Cox, GoPack.com