Quick hits and notes from NC State's 38-24 win over Central Michigan in front of a crowd of 54,338 fans that included American Idol winner Scotty McCreery on a beautiful Saturday afternoon at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh.
New look Pack
The Pack wore black uniforms for the first time in school history, with pink lettering since October is breast cancer awareness week. The team also wore a red helmet for the first time since 1999. The block 'S' was in white.
State welcomed back several key contributors Saturday, most noticeably redshirt junior linebacker Terrell Manning, who had missed the last two games with a knee injury. Manning was second on the squad with nine tackles, including 1.5 for loss and a sack, forced a fumble and picked off a pass.
Also back for State was junior defensive tackle Brian Slay, who missed the Georgia Tech contest with an ankle injury. State added fifth-year senior Wayne Crawford on defense, moving him over from center to defensive tackle. Crawford, who started his career as a defensive lineman, assisted on a tackle.
The move was made in part because redshirt junior offensive guard Andrew Wallace appears cleared to play now. Wallace was dressed out Saturday after missing the first five games while recuperating from surgery for a torn ACL suffered in December during bowl practices.
Redshirt freshman punter Wil Baumann was also back after missing the Georgia Tech game with a strained groin. He punted three times for an average of 37.3 yards, pinning two inside the 20.
Moving up the records book
NC State fifth-year senior tight end George Bryan caught an 18-yard touchdown pass on the game's opening drive. It was his 15th career touchdown reception, moving him into a tie with former receivers Owen Spencer and Koren Robinson into fifth-place in school history. Bryan now has 103 career catches, good for 15th overall at State.
Senior receiver T.J. Graham caught two passes for 56 yards, returned three kickoffs for 83 yards (27.7 average) and ran three punts back for 47 yards (15.7 average). That was 189 total all-purpose yards in the game, moving him into second place all-time at State with 4,505. Ted Brown holds the record with 5,565 yards. Brown played at State from 1975-78.
Redshirt junior quarterback Mike Glennon completed 20 of 36 passes for 244 yards and four touchdowns with no interceptions. His four scoring passes give him 17 through six games, already tied for the eighth best in a season at State. Only Jamie Barnette, Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson threw more touchdowns in a year than Glennon has thus far for the Pack in 2011.
Offense with a good effort
NC State junior running back James Washington went over the century mark for the second straight game, rushing 25 times for 109 yards and a touchdown. The last time State had a rusher go over 100 yards in back-to-back games was when Andre Brown did it as a true freshman against Southern Miss and Florida State in 2005.
Washington's backup Tony Creecy, a redshirt freshman, ran 16 times for 61 yards. The two highlighted what was a solid effort for the offense. State did not turn it over, gave up just one sack, had only one rushing play that resulted in a loss and piled up 406 yards of total offense in the win. That represented State's second best offensive output of the year behind their 424 yards against Wake Forest in a week two loss. This was the first game that State's offense did not turn it over either. (Special teams did have a turnover when Graham muffed a punt.)
The Pack's 14 first quarter points were four more than they had all year in the opening period in the previous five games combined.
Defense gets turnovers
The Pack forced five Central Michigan turnovers, two of them that were crucial. Sophomore cornerback David Amerson picked off two passes, one of them in the end zone with State up 38-24 with 5:38 left in the game. Amerson now has six interceptions on the year. Junior safety Brandan Bishop also had a pick, his third of the year and seventh of his career.
NC State now has 12 interceptions on the year.
The more crucial play however by Bishop was when he forced a fumble by CMU freshman receiver Titus Davis at the NCSU 16 that was recovered by redshirt junior safety Earl Wolff at the 12 with 1:38 left before halftime, preserving a 21-17 NCSU lead at the break. Davis was in the midst of a 46-yard pass when he fumbled and cost Central Michigan a chance of at least adding a field goal before halftime. CMU also missed a chance to carry momentum in the locker room knowing they were going to receive the second half kickoff.
Spotted at the game
NC State commitments Josh Sessoms, safety from Southern Nash High in Bailey, N.C., and James Summers, quarterback from Page High in Greensboro, N.C., were both at the game. So too was senior offensive lineman Casey Perry from Hillside High in Durham, N.C.
Top junior quarterback Connor Mitch from Wakefield High in Raleigh was also in attendance. Mitch sports a Wolfpack offer. An unconfirmed visitor was cornerback Marchez Coates from McDonough High in Pomfret, Md. A player with a striking resemblance to the Pittsburgh commitment was spotted before the game, but the recruit was not wearing a name tag.
Also at the game was American Idol winner Scotty McCreery. You can watch his pregame national anthem below.