Leading the way for NC State in the opening quarter was true freshman Toney Baker. A heralded tailback from Jamestown, North Carolina, Baker made his first career start and didn't disappoint.
After a fumble by Eastern Kentucky on the opening kickoff, Baker would score the first touchdown of his career on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Jay Davis. The next possession for the Wolfpack yielded a 31-yard field goal from John Deraney and then Baker exploded again, this time for a 32-yard touchdown run to put NC State ahead 17-0 just minutes into the game. On the carry he showed great explosion and the outstanding vision that most labeled his best strength coming out of high school.
"Really you can't coach vision," Baker said following the game. "That's just god-given ability. Actually after I get the handoff it just takes over. It's hard to explain. I just try to run hard."
Baker would add a three-yard touchdown score on the next possession, giving him 85 yards rushing on just six carries with three total touchdowns and a 24-0 Wolfpack lead. Baker's counterpart, true freshman Andre Brown, added yet another rushing touchdown for NC State in the first period, a seven-yard run that gave the Pack a commanding 31-0 lead.
Wolfpack head coach Chuck Amato had to be happy with the blazing start, as it allowed him to get a comfortable lead against a D-1AA opponent and rest some starters the rest of the way with rival North Carolina coming to Raleigh next weekend.
Jay Davis did connect with wideout Tramain Hall for a 8-yard scoring strike in the second half to give the Wolfpack a 38-0 lead, but Eastern Kentucky ended any thoughts of a shutout after Steven Cassell returned a Marcus Stone fumble 20 yards for a Colonel touchdown.
Davis would come back in on the next series for NC State, and completed the half at quarterback. Starting the opening series of the second half, Davis connected with tailback Darrell Blackman for a 70-yard touchdown and a 45-7 NC State lead.
"It was a great call at the time," Blackman said. "We saw that the defense was rushing a lot, coming with blitzes. So the coaches decided to throw a little screen pass. Jay stayed alive just a little bit longer so I could get out there. I just made things happen... made a couple of guys miss and went to the endzone."
Davis ended his night 12-of-17 for 234 yards, three touchdowns and just one interception.
Both reserves, Daniel Evans and Marcus Stone, received playing time in the second half, with Stone playing the majority of the snaps. He completed 6-of-11 passes for 52 yards and a scoring pass to true freshman Geron James.
"[Catching his first career touchdown] feels good," James said. "It feels real good. It feels even better that pretty much all the freshmen did their thing today. Toney Baker got three touchdowns, Andre [Brown] got one, so I feel pretty good about it."
Baker's play highlighted the running backs. With no back receiving more than nine carries, NC State got five backs quality reps. Andre Brown rushed for 32 yards on nine carries, including a seven-yard touchdown. Bobby Washington added 40 yards on eight carries.
Nine Wolfpack players had receptions, with Tramain Hall's four catches a game-high.
Defensively NC State also was able to gain valuable experience for the backups, as Amato's staff substituted along the lines and in the secondary for much of the second half.
The Wolfpack kept Eastern Kentucky's offense out of the endzone, as linebacker Stephen Tulloch once again paced NC State in tackles. The junior totaled eight tackles, five quarterback hurries, two tackles for loss, and one sack. Backup defensive end Renaldo Moses added six tackles, three quarterback hurries, two tackles for loss and one sack. Defensive end Mario Williams had a blocked punt and fumble recovery.
"I just did what the coaches are telling me to do," Williams said of the blocked punt. "He's just like, 'Go... even if you block it just keep going, don't stop.' I just kept going and I came through.
"It was easier in a game than what it was in practice. In practice it was a lot harder than it seems like."
NC State (1-1) now prepares this week for a rivalry game against North Carolina.