Dominant Defense Keys Pack Win, 23-10

RALEIGH, N.C. -- NC State held Appalachian State to just 133 yards and Andre Brown rushed for 125 yards on 15 carries as the Wolfpack defeated the Mountaineers 23-10.

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    The defending 1-AA champs put up a valiant effort, but in the end it was the backfield duo of Andre Brown and Toney Baker that proved to be too much, along with a standout performance by the Wolfpack's defense.

    State first got on the scoreboard when they capitalized on some early-game Mountaineer jitters. Center Scott Suttle launched a snap over quarterback Trey Elder's head on the opening possession to net the Wolfpack an early safety, and after the two squads traded a pair of punts, Brown got it going.

    A holding call took away a 10 yard-run, but on the next play Brown exploded down the left sideline for a dazzling 43-yard touchdown run that included stiffarming a defender and leaping into the endzone. Brown's run put the Wolfpack ahead 9-0, and NC State appeared to be cruising.

    The Mountaineers also netted their first score by taking advantage of a mistake. With two minutes remaining in the first quarter, Titus Howard recovered J.C. Neal's botched punt, as Neal backed into returner Darrell Blackman on the play, giving App. State the ball on N.C. State's 46-yard line.

    App. State came to play, and they quickly struck on the offense's best play of the day, as Elder hit receiver Dexter Jackson on a 39-yard strick to the Wolfpack 7-yard line. Kevin Richardson found the endzone two plays later from a yard out, cutting NC State's lead to 9-7.

    The Wolfpack came right back with a scoring drive of its own, led by Brown and quarterback Marcus Stone. Wideout Darrell Blackman capped a 12-play drive when he turned a short bubble screen into a 14-yard scoring pass, and the Wolfpack was back ahead by two possessions, 16-7.

    With 8:15 remaining in the first half, NC State again had great field position when Martrel Brown forced a fumble that was recovered by Garland Heath, but the turnover bug bit again. Three plays later, Toney Baker fumbled a screen pass and Jeremy Wiggins returned it 31 yards to the Wolfpack 14-yard line. The Wolfpack's defense came up big, as on third-and-goal from the five-yard-line, Elder's pass was intercepted by Miguel Scott, and State led comfortably 16-7 at the half.

    App. State generated just 98 yards on 30 plays at halftime, while the Wolfpack tallied 160 yards on 29 plays. Brown was the offensive star, as the sophomore tailback had tallied 110 yards on 12 carries prior to intermission. Possibly looking to rest his star tailback for the next week's game against Akron, Brown just played a couple of possessions in the second half.

    On the Wolfpack's first drive of the half, Stone had trouble corralling the snap from center Leroy Harris and his fumble was recovered by Pierre Banks on the NC State 19-yard line. The Pack's defense stiffened up and forced a 37-yard field goal by Julian Rauch that closed the gap to 16-10.

    On the ensuing possession, Blackman returned the kick 52 yards to the Mountaineer 48 yard-line, but the Wolfpack would squander the great field position as Stone was picked off at the Mountaineer 43-yard line by Wiggins on the next play. After forcing the Mountaineers to punt, the Wolfpack offense turned to Toney Baker. Baker ran the ball on five consecutive plays, including a 9-yard touchdown run through the middle of the defense, making it 23-10 with 6:25 remaining in the third quarter. The Mountaineers failed to mount a successful drive the rest of the game, and mustered negative five yards of total offense in the third quarter, as the Wolfpack's defense was simply dominant.

    Stone didn't have the best game statistically, but with the Wolfpack ground game working and the defense controlling App. State, he really didn't have to. The redshirt junior completed 7-of-13 passes for 36 yards, including a touchdown and an interception, but attempted just three passes in the second half as he improved to 6-1 as a starter. Baker tallied 50 yards on 12 carries, including his nine-yard touchdown, and Jamelle Eugene added 29 yards on 10 carries. Brown finished the night with 125 yards on 15 carries, averaging 8.3 yards per touch.

    Appalachian State, regarded as the top team in Division I-AA after returning 16 starters from last year's national championship team, tallied just 133 yards of total offense. The Wolfpack defense harrassed starting quarterback Trey Elder into a 4-of-14 effort, as he passed for just 58 yards and was sacked four times. Kevin Richardson, a preseason All-American and SOCON Offensive Player of the Year, tallied just 34 yards on 14 carries.

    Four different Wolfpack players registered sacks, as Ray Brooks, Demario Pressley, Martrel Brown, and John Amanchukwu all got to Elder on the night. Brooks tallied 2.5 tackles for loss, and senior linebacker Pat Lowery totaled 11 tackles and two tackles for a loss, pacing the Wolfpack's defensive effort.

    Next up for NC State (1-0) is a tough game against the Akron Zips (1-0). Akron, the preseason MAC Champions, lost its opener to No. 19 Penn State, 34-16.

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