TSX: Pack Rolling Along

After Saturday's 44-17 victory over Boston College, the Wolfpack players turned a tradition around by handing out game balls of their own -- to coach Tom O'Brien and offensive coordinator Dana Bible.

There were obvious reasons for that gesture. It was the first victory in four tries for O'Brien against the Eagles, dating from when he left Boston College to take the North Carolina State job. And it also came on a day when the Wolfpack proved to themselves that they could overcome adversity, unlike the squad of a year ago.

State crushed Boston College with a dominating performance. As O'Brien put it after the game, "Anytime you can score on offense, defense and special teams is a good day."

Anytime you can get within one game of bowl eligibility with half a season to play is a good day too, especially with the Wolfpack taking things down to the wire in each of O'Brien's first three seasons.

Instead, the 5-1 start for North Carolina State is the program's best since 2002, and a necessity for a coaching staff that didn't enter the season with a great deal of job security. But another challenge awaits next week in an East Carolina team that always seems to save its best effort for its rival from the more prominent ACC.

In the meantime, however, O'Brien and Bible have a couple of new trophies for their offices.

-- Dontae Johnson's blocked punt in the first quarter was the team's third in the last four games. The Wolfpack also came away with punt blocks against Georgia Tech and Cincinnati.
-- QB Russell Wilson completed 38 passes against Boston College, tying the school record held by Philip Rivers.

GAME BALL GOES TO: QB Russell Wilson -- Wilson led the Wolfpack in passing, throwing for 328 yards and three touchdowns. He also was the leading rusher, with a net gain of 45 yards on 14 carries, and he managed the offense well enough for it to finish with 422 total yards.

KEEP AN EYE ON: CB David Amerson -- Amerson had a team-high seven tackles against Boston College, all of which were solo efforts. Starting for the second straight week, he was a factor in limiting the Boston College running game that decimated the Wolfpack a year ago.

QUOTE TO NOTE: "We knew we had to get off to a fast start but also keep the pedal (down) on them in the third quarter. We did a good job of keeping pressure on them and not letting up." -- North Carolina State safety Brandan Bishop, in the Raleigh News & Observer, after the Wolfpack's victory over Boston College.

The offense will get most of the headlines, but the Wolfpack run defense deserves a lot of credit for a complete turnaround from what happened a year ago. Boston College running back Montel Harris finished the 2009 game between the squads with 264 yards and five touchdowns. He was held to 53 yards in the rematch.

The defense also forced a quarterback change by harassing BC's Dave Shinskie into utter ineffectiveness. And, like the offense and special teams, the defense got on the scoreboard as well thanks to C.J. Wilson's pick-six.

STILL NEEDS WORK: Russell Wilson did throw a pair of interceptions to go along with his 328 yards and three touchdowns, so that won't make him happy when he watches the film. The running game also had a hard time gaining ground against the Eagles. The Wolfpack averaged less than three yards per rush, and Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene combined for 25 yards on 10 carries.

-- RB James Washington finally made his debut after battling injuries for the first month of the season. The senior played mostly on third downs and caught five passes for 28 yards, running the ball twice for 3 yards.
-- CB C.J. Wilson ran back an interception 28 yards for a touchdown against Boston College. It was his second INT return for a score this year, the first time any Wolfpack player has done that in 44 years.
-- WR Owen Spencer moved into fifth place on the Wolfpack's all-time receiving yards list. The senior trails Torry Holt, Jerricho Cotchery, Eddie Goines and Nasrallah Worthen.

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