Pete Thomas threw his first touchdown pass as an NC State quarterback and the Wolfpack looked as sharp as anyone could hope in route to a 48-14 win over Central Michigan on a gorgeous fall afternoon in Carter-Finley Stadium. Coach Doeren’s staff clearly saw something in in the Chippewa defense that the Pack wanted to exploit as State racked up 239 rushing yards (4.6 yards per carry), with a large portion of rushes called on wide sweeps that utilized wide receivers more than usual. For example, Bryan Underwood ran three jet sweeps while Rashard Smith rushed the ball five times. All told, State ran the ball on almost 3 of every 4 plays for scrimmage.
Defensively, State was without defensive ends Darryl Cato-Bishop and Forrest West, but Robert Caldwell continued his stellar play and once again led the Pack with tackles. D.J. Green set the tone for the day when he intercepted a MCU pass on the Chippewas first possession and returned it 37 yards for the first score of the day.
While the News & Observer and Fayetteville Observer both highlighted Shadrach Thornton’s growing role, Backing the Pack took a broader approach and highlighted the roles of the ‘primary ball touchers’ on Saturday.
For the game, CMU gained just 259 yards on 64 plays, an average of just over four yards per play. In 72 plays, the Pack ran up 483 yards, a 6.7 per play average. But a truer representation of N.C. State’s dominance is evident in the first half stats. The Pack put up 285 yards (8.1 per play) before intermission compared to 94 (2.7) for CMU.
Walking with one of his sons on the way to a team dinner at Vaughn Towers on Friday, N.C. State football coach Dave Doeren addressed running back Shadrach Thornton.
When you walk over coals to get what you want, Doeren told Thornton, it means a lot more to you.
Doeren offered two more words.
Thornton, who was suspended for the Wolfpack’s season opener because of a June arrest on a misdemeanor assault charge, has seen his role gradually increase. After appearing only on special teams against Richmond and capitalizing on his only two offensive touches against Clemson, he rushed 13 times for 71 yards as N.C. State’s primary ball carrier in a 48-14 win against Central Michigan on Saturday.
Doeren’s message a day earlier about overcoming adversity and gaining strength from it resonated with Thornton.
“I’m a firm believer in perseverance,” Thornton said. “It’ll make you a better person. If you go through a lot, go through so much to get what you really want, once you’ve got it, it means a lot. It’s a blessing to be here.”
Shadrach Thornton got a second chance from N.C. State coach Dave Doeren. The sophomore running back made sure he made the most of it in Saturdayâ€™s 48-14 win over Central Michigan.
Thornton ran for 71 yards and scored a 29-yard touchdown, his second in as many weeks, since returning from a one-game suspension.
Thornton was grateful for a bigger role in the Wolfpackâ€™s offense on Saturday.
Doeren said earlier this week that Thornton had to earn a bigger role in the offense. Thatâ€™s fine with Thornton, who ran for 694 yards last season.
â€œReally, Iâ€™m just here to do what they need me to do,â€ Thornton said. â€œThey told me that my role would increase as the weeks progressed and I continue to get better.â€
NC State will play its first game of the season outside of Carter-Finley this coming Saturday when the Wolfpack travel to Winston-Salem and take on Wake Forest in the house of horrors that has become BB&T Field. Kickoff is set for 3:30pm.