RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State’s slow start had nothing to do with losing last week. The Wolfpack’s strong finish had everything to do with finding a rhythm.
Ryan Finley threw three touchdown passes and N.C. State beat Marshall 37-20 on Saturday night.
Reggie Gallaspy added two scoring runs while Finley was 29 of 36 for 341 yards with scores covering 24 yards to Stephen Louis, 34 yards to Kelvin Harmon and 39 yards on a flea-flicker pass to Jaylen Samuels that jump-started a sputtering offense.
“We’ve just got to start off as fast as we finished,” defensive end Bradley Chubb said. “I try not to think about the last game. … I don’t think it was a carryover at all, no.”
N.C. State (1-1), coming off a loss to South Carolina in the opener, twice fell behind by 10 points before responding with touchdowns on four straight possessions — including three in a row to end the first half — and scoring the game’s final 27 points.
Early in the second half, coach Dave Doeren said, offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz “just got in a rhythm calling plays, and he was seeing what they were doing, coverage-wise.”
“Finley continues to be very, very efficient throwing the football and accurate,” Doeren said. “Harmon had another 100-yard game, I like the way Reggie ran the ball down the stretch. Just really proud of the way the guys responded.”
The Wolfpack took the lead for good 16 seconds before halftime, when Finley dropped a pass over both double coverage and Harmon’s back shoulder for the touchdown that put them up 23-20. Harmon finished with nine catches for 121 yards — his second straight 100-yard game.
“Our focus was just to play our game and focus and do what we had to do — we weren’t worried about their skill, we were just focused on doing what we had to do,” Marshall safety Malik Grant said.
Marshall (1-1) went up 20-10 on Tyre Brady’s 75-yard catch-and-run from Chase Litton. Brady set a Carter-Finley Stadium record with 248 yards receiving while Litton finished 26 of 43 for 350 yards and a 1-yard TD to Willie Johnson.
Marshall: Brady looks like a natural as the Herd’s big-play threat. One of the Miami transfer’s last appearances in the North Carolina Triangle certainly was unforgettable — he was responsible for one of the eight laterals on the Hurricanes’ game-winning kickoff return at Duke two years ago — and he made history in this visit, too. He had more yards receiving in the first half of this game than he had in his college career.
N.C. State: The play everyone will remember from this one was the flea-flicker. Trailing by 10 points shortly before halftime, Finley handed off to Gallaspy, who then handed off to Jakobi Meyers. He pitched the ball back to Finley, and nobody was remotely close to Samuels down the right sideline for the touchdown that pulled the Wolfpack to 20-17.
HE SAID IT
“If people keep playing man-to-man … he’s going to keep having 100-yard games. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.”
— Doeren, on the way Harmon is being defended.
WELCOME BACK, DOC
Marshall coach Doc Holliday spent five years on Chuck Amato’s staff at N.C. State and helped develop Koren Robinson and Jerricho Cotchery into NFL receivers. Brady became the latest of his receivers to have a big night at Carter-Finley, in the process breaking Cotchery’s stadium record for yards. Brady hit triple digits before 5 minutes had elapsed in the second quarter — and it came before his long catch-and-run touchdown. Johnathan Alston whiffed on the tackle and the Wolfpack secondary didn’t back him up.
THE OTHER PLAY OF THE NIGHT
Samuels caught a tipped pass while lying on his back. Finley threw his way on the Wolfpack’s first series of the second half, and the do-it-all threat tipped the ball three times while being covered before finally pulling it in while he was on his back near the sideline.
BIG PLAY TAKEN AWAY
Keion Davis had a 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown nullified because of a holding penalty. Davis returned two kickoffs for TDs last week in the Herd’s victory over Miami of Ohio. This flag came on the kickoff that followed the Gallaspy touchdown that put N.C. State up 10.
Marshall: The Herd return home to play host to a former Mid-American Conference rival when they take on Kent State on Sept. 16.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack play host to Furman of the FCS on Sept. 16 in a breather before things get tough at Florida State the following week.
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