The Wolfpack ran for 362 yards against the Wake Forest defense, led by Shadrach Thornton. The junior tailback tallied 110 yards on 16 carries, including a touchdown. Sophomore Matt Dayes added 66 yards on 11 carries and also caught four passes for 47 yards. Dayes scored three touchdowns on the afternoon (two rushing and one receiving).
It was the most yards rushing in a game for State since the Pack ran for 400 yards against Western Carolina in 1990. It was the best ground effort in an ACC game since going for 376 versus Maryland in 1987.
“Once we started popping through their line on some misdirection runs, we were able to open it up,” Doeren said. “The offensive line played great and our wide receivers made good blocks downfield. Our backs did a great job in space, breaking tackles and fighting for extra yards.”
After holding Wake Forest to a three-and-out in its first possession, NC State drove downfield and took a lead it would never relinquish when redshirt-senior Tony Creecy rushed for a two-yard touchdown. Dayes added a rushing and receiving touchdown in the second quarter to give the Pack a, 21-3, advantage at halftime.
Senior placekicker Niklas Sade broke the school record for points scored held by Ted Brown with his extra point after Dayes’ second touchdown. Sade finished the contest with six points, giving him 317 in his collegiate career.
“I know [Brown] was a pretty good running back,” Sade said. “He scored a lot of touchdowns. It is a record he held for a long time at this program—a program I have followed since moving [to Raleigh]. It is a great honor to be mentioned in the same sentence with him and to get this record really means a lot.”
Bryan Underwood took a reverse play 75 yards for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage in the second half. The senior wide receiver was playing in his final home game, along with 17 others, is not ready to reminisce about his career at NC State.
“It has not hit me yet,” Underwood said of playing his final home game at Carter-Finley Stadium. “Right now, it is about getting ready for next [game]. All the work from the off-season is paying off now.”
The win means NC State play in a bowl game for the fourth time in the last five seasons and the first time under Doeren. The second-year coach feels the Wolfpack is making discernible progress since falling to a 3-9 record last season. It also provides momentum heading into the final game of the season in two weeks against North Carolina at Kenan Stadium in Chapel Hill.
“It is great to be bowl eligible and we have doubled our win total in one year. [There are] some really good young players that are continuing to get better and some senior players that are playing like seniors. It is fun to go into a bye week bowl eligible, give the guys a little time to heal up and then get ready for the cross-town rivalry.”