RALEIGH, N.C. – The N.C. State Wolfpack posted a 37-20 win over the Marshall Thundering Herd at Carter-Finley Stadium on Saturday.
It was a tale of two halves for the heavily favored Wolfpack as quarterback Ryan Finley started quickly, experienced some inconsistency in pass completion before finally capping off a 29-of-36, 341-yard, three-touchdown performance.
Running back Reggie Gallaspy (61 yards, 12 carries) provided the most impact, scoring the final two touchdowns of the game that iced the win for the Wolfpack.
“Really proud of the way we played in the second half,” N.C. State head coach Dave Doeren said.
“I thought our adjustments were solid in the second half. Proud of how we finished it.”
Things turned quickly to N.C. State’s favor following a strong defensive stand during Marshall’s opening drive that held the Thundering Herd to 10 yards on four plays.
Though Finley scampered up-field for 46 yards, and had serious looks at breaking the plane of the goal line, N.C. State could only generate a 31-yard field goal from Carson Wise.
Looking to deny the Herd once more, the Wolfpack defense saw quarterback Chase Litton march his offense towards the State five-yard line before completing a touchdown pass to Willie Johnson (4 catches, 20 yards).
The nine-play, 85-yard drive put Marshall up 7-3 with 6:23 to go in the opening quarter.
Litton finished a strong performance himself in pushing the N.C. State defense to a limit that allowed him to throw 26-of-43 for 350 yards and two touchdowns.
Marshall receiver Tyre Brady was one of Litton’s biggest targets, gaining 248 yards on 11 catches for one of the Herd’s scores.
Following an unproductive, three-and-out sequence from the Wolfpack, Litton worked with running back Keion Davis (8 rushes, 74 yards) to put the ball in position for placekicker Kaare Vedvik to split the uprights from 33 yards out.
Marshall carried a 10-3 advantage into the next quarter.
A field goal from Vedvik increased the Wolfpack deficit to 10 points, trailing 13-3 with 8:20 remaining in the half.
N.C. State responded quickly as Finley put together a productive six-play drive that ended with a strike to Stephen Louis (5 catches, 73 yards) for a 24-yard finish that pulled the Wolfpack to within three.
Barely enough time counted down, 12 seconds to be exact, before Marshall claimed those points back as Litton found Brady open before he finished the 75-yard scoring play.
The back-and-forth scoring pace continued as N.C. State’s Jaylen Samuels (60 yards, 5 catches) scored on a 39-yard pass-and-run play, accenting it with a dive into the Marshall end zone.
While it looked as though the Wolfpack would trail at halftime, Finley found receiver Kelvin Harmon (9 catches, 121 yards) with a pass on a route to the right end zone that landed in his arms, even with two Marshall defenders hanging on him.
Though Wise’s PAT missed, N.C. State reclaimed the lead, 23-20, as both teams headed into the halftime break.
“They did a good job, better than we thought they would during the first half,” Doeren pointed out.
“They did a good job on our outside run game.”
While Gallaspy’s conversions provided the distance that finally significantly separated both teams, the Wolfpack defense showed its mettle in helping to do so as well.
Led by defensive end Bradley Chubbs’ seven tackles, and three tackles-for-loss, along with seven tackles apiece from linebacker Jerod Fernandez and cornerback Jonnathan Alston, N.C. State completed the shutout of the Herd offense throughout the second half.
Sitting at 1-1 overall, Doeren noted the potential that the Wolfpack possessed going forward.
“I told the team in our pregame talk today that I think we can be as good as we want to be.
“I think that as long as we stay out of our own way the ceiling is very high. We just can’t be a team that beats ourselves and we weren’t tonight.”
Offense: N.C. State – Ryan Finley (29-36, 341 yards, 3 TD), Reggie Gallaspy (12 carries, 61 yards, 2 TD), Kelvin Harmon (9 catches, 121 yards, 1 TD); Marshall – Chase Litton (26-43, 350 yards, 2 TD, 1 INT); Tyre Brady (11 catches 248 yards, 1 TD), Keion Davis (8 carries, 74 yards)
Defense: N.C. State – Bradley Chubb (7 tackles, 3 TFL), Jerod Fernandez (7 tackles, 0.5 TFL), Johnathan Alston (7 tackles, 1 PBR); Marshall – Malik Gant (17 tackles, 1 TFL), Frankie Hernandez (10 tackles, 2 TFL), Chase Hancock (10 tackles, 1 TFL, 1 PBR)
Coming in: It was the fourth-ever meeting between the two programs, all in Raleigh, with N.C. State leading the series 3-0…The Wolfpack came into the game 0-1 following a gut-wrenching 35-28 season-opening loss to South Carolina while the Thundering Herd’s special teams play pulled out a 31-26 win over Miami (Ohio).
Going out: Though not a flawless performance, N.C. State posted a well-earned win and showed significant strengths in making plays when it needed to – be it to score points, or stop the Herd offense from posting a point for the final 30 minutes of play.