N.C. State went for 362 yards on 46 carries, an astounding average of 7.9 yards per rush, and had five of its six touchdowns come from the ground attack as the Wolfpack trounced the Demon Deacons, 42-13, at Carter-Finley Stadium to close out the home slate.
The last time State ran for more yards in a game was in 1990 against Western Carolina. The Pack had not tallied that many yards on the ground in ACC play since posting 376 yards versus Maryland in 1987.
Shadrach Thornton led the attack with 16 carries for 110 yards and one touchdown. Matt Dayes finished with 66 yards on 11 rushes with two touchdowns on the ground (three overall). Jaylen Samuels added 56 yards and Bryan Underwood emerged from what has been a quiet season with 76 yards—aided by a 75-yard touchdown on a reverse on the first play from scrimmage in the second half.
Overall, six players for NC State rushed for at least 25 yards and all averaged at least six yards per carry.
“We have a great gameplan and a great running backs coach,” Thornton said. “The offensive line is doing what they are supposed to do, making the blocks, and we have to make the runs.”
Underwood’s touchdown to open the second half was one of many long gains the Wolfpack had on the ground against the Demon Deacons. Doeren attributed that to improved blocking, but not just from the linemen.
“To open up [the second half] with a touchdown to Bryan was awesome,” Doeren said. “The offensive line played great and our receivers made good blocks down field. Our backs did a great job in space, breaking tackles and fighting for extra yards.”
While N.C. State does not have one tailback with massive numbers statistically, the combined trio of Thornton, Dayes and Tony Creecy, who also scored a touchdown on Saturday, has produced 1,349 rushing yards on 249 carries this season, good for an average of 5.4 yards per carry.
"The [offensive] line has played their butts off," Dayes said. "All credit goes to them."
NC State will look to continue the success on the ground. With its win over Wake Forest, the Wolfpack became bowl eligible and now has a huge game up next. After a bye week, State closes out the regular season on the road against North Carolina.
The Wolfpack has averaged 213 rushing yards per game in November, and North Carolina currently ranks No. 115 nationally in rushing defense. Look for the Pack to continue pounding away on the ground.
“We have a lot of weapons,” Underwood said. “We have a lot of guys that can run the ball. We have a three-back system and a three-receiver system of guys that can run. A lot of guys can tote the rock and it is going to be hard to stop. It is kind of fun to see how other teams try to handle it.”