It was unclear which player would take control and win the job. After two games, the logjam has proven to be extremely effective.
Junior Shadrach Thornton rushed 14 times for 88 yards and three touchdowns while sophomore Matt Dayes added 79 yards on 13 carries and a touchdown to lead a balanced attack in NC State’s46-34 victory over Old Dominion at Carter-Finley Stadium. The win moves the Wolfpack to 2-0 on the campaign with a trip to face South Florida in Tampa looming on Saturday.
The duo was particularly effective in the second half, combining for 120 yards and three touchdowns to help the Pack rebound from an early 11-point deficit.
Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren was pleased with his tandem.
"We had a big, big night for our rushing game," Doeren said. “I thought we physically finished out the game in the fourth quarter. We took care of the football tonight.
"Our offensive line opened holes and we were able to run over them in the fourth."
The Wolfpack took its first lead with 8:52 remaining in the third quarter after Thornton reached paydirt with his second two-yard touchdown of the game. Dayes gave State its first double-digit lead with a little over 12 minutes left on a 10-yard touchdown run.
The Pack did not trail in the fourth quarter.
"We are trying to show our Wolfpack fans and everybody around here that we are the real deal," Thornton said. "I am loving it. It is not just one guy you can key on. That can be a bit much for the defense."
For Dayes, one of the biggest keys to the team's success on offense has been their conditioning. Coming off a 2013 season where the Wolfpack often faltered late, they are now finishing games.
"We don’t get tired," Dayes said. "All the credit goes to the strength and conditioning staff."
With the nonconference season at the halfway point and two games remaining before conference power Florida State visits Carter-Finley Stadium, the Wolfpack will look to continue pounding away at defenses with a group of backs who all compliment each other really well.
It's obvious that Dayes is confident in all of their abilities.
"I think we are the best running tandem in the ACC," he said. "There is nothing that we can’t do."