ACC Football: N.C. State 52, The Citadel 14
RALEIGH - After freshman Shadrach Thornton scored his first career touchdown early in North Carolina State's 52-14 victory over The Citadel on Saturday night, Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien sought out Thornton on the sideline for a quick conversation.The message was brief - N.C. State was going to call on Thornton for more. Thornton proved to be up to the challenge in his first career game, running for 145 yards and two touchdowns in the Wolfpack's convincing win. "He's a good football player," O'Brien said. "We knew that, and we saw that; as the (preseason) scrimmages went on, he got a lot of work in the fourth scrimmage because we wanted to see (him) because you never know." The Wolfpack (3-1) called on Thornton because its top three running backs on the depth chart were unavailable. Even with Mustafa Greene (suspension), James Washington (injury) and Tony Creecy (injury) missing the game, N.C. State managed to run for a season-high 284 yards, eclipsing the previous best of 127 against South Alabama. Thornton, a native of Hinesville, Ga., had the majority of those yards. He finished off the Wolfpack's opening drive with a 19-yard touchdown run where he showed nice vision in cutting back against the grain. "I dreamed it, I wrote it down as a goal," Thornton said when asked if he ever expected such a moment during his freshman year. The Wolfpack scored touchdowns on five of its six drives in the first half to build a commanding 35-point halftime lead. N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon ran for two touchdowns and passed for one more. The senior completed 19 of 24 passes for 233 yards to lead N.C. State to its third straight victory after its season-opening loss to Tennessee. Rashard Smith had a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown for the Wolfpack, and cornerback David Amerson picked off Bulldog (3-1) quarterback Aaron Miller for his third interception in as many games. Darien Robinson had a 65-yard touchdown run for The Citadel in the first quarter, providing the Bulldogs with their only highlight of the first half. It was The Citadel's fifth play this season that had gained more than 40 yards. Robinson finished with 102 yards on nine carries. The Bulldogs rushed for 199 yards after coming into the game averaging 370 yards per outing. "I thought we would play a much better game in all three phases," The Citadel coach Kevin Higgins said. After Robinson's lengthy score, Thornton gave N.C. State the lead for good when he got into the end zone from 7-yards out on the Wolfpack's ensuing possession. Thornton also had four catches for 26 yards. N.C. State stretched its advantage to 21-7 when Bryan Underwood took a short pass from Glennon and turned it into a 20-yard touchdown reception. Underwood has scored a touchdown in all four of N.C. State's games this season. The Wolfpack then took advantage of Glennon's two short touchdown runs in the second quarter and Smith's punt return to take a 42-7 lead at halftime. "You have to give our defensive coaching staff and players a lot of credit," O'Brien said. "It was a great day for our defense. We had a blown assignment on that long run, but other than that, we did good defensively tonight."