Washington Ignites Pack Offense

RALEIGH, N.C. -- James Washington set a career-high with 20 carries and 131 yards on the ground as the NC State running game reestablished itself against the Yellow Jackets.

NC State made the ground game a priority on Saturday night, and James Washington was more than happy to carry the load.

"We ran very well today, the offensive line came off firing and made some holes," Washington said. "Once I made my reads I was able to get out."

The junior running back shouldered an increased load thanks to the absence of Curtis Underwood, taking the hand-off from Mike Glennon 20 times for 131 yards and averaging 6.6 yards per carry. Coming off a game where the Pack running backs averaged just half a yard per attempt, it was a big step forward for both Washington and the offensive line.

"Our run game did a great job," Glennon said. "Our line did a great job and the backs ran really hard. It kind of shows that when we have a run game it helps our offense out a lot."

The success of the offense seemed to directly relate to how committed to running the ball and specifically running with Washington, who also led the team with five receptions for 35 yards. In the first half the Pack had five drives, in the two drives where they passed on first down they went three-and-out. In two drives where they started with a run the Pack averaged 12 plays and 55 yards and found themselves in the red zone twice, turning the ball over on downs its first trip but scoring a touchdown on its second.

"Our mindset was different," Washington said. "We didn't come out and adjust to the defense we made them adjust to us and we were able to push them back and open up some running lanes. Early on we were shooting ourselves in the foot with drops, incorrect reads but we got it together as the game went along."

The Pack got its first big running play in a long time on its first offensive play of the second half. Washington had a big gap up the middle to get into the defensive backfield, where he threw a stiff arm and used his speed to separate from the rest of the Georgia Tech defense for a 46-yard touchdown. The run closed the deficit to just seven points and gave the Pack a chance with 13 minutes still remaining in the third quarter.

"They play a 3-4, they don't really penetrate in the backfield much," Washington said. "We were able to get leverage and open up some seams – we were able to run very effectively."

Like the rest of the team, Washington and the running game hit a wall in the final 15 minutes. Glennon threw a interception that was returned for a touchdown when the Pack tried to throw on first down on its first possession of the fourth. On its next possession, Washington picked up nine yards on first down only to get stuffed on three consecutive plays and turn the ball over the the Yellow Jackets. One play later it was a four touchdown lead.

With the game well out of hand, Tony Creecy got an increased workload and showed flashes of what made him such a highly regarded recruit. The freshman back broke off runs of 10, 15 and 27 yards in the Pack's final two possessions.

"Tony did good," Washington said. "It was his first time actually going with the first team. We'll see how he does next week against Central Michigan."

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