RALEIGH, N.C. — Football dug its grave with a pick-six and nailed the coffin after a special teams touchdown in the first half of a 48-14 loss at North Carolina State on Saturday.
“When you play a really good team and give away a touchdown like that, it’s tough to win,” said head coach Dan Enos. “We miss a field goal. Take 14 points off, add three for us. But that’s a very good football team we just played.”
Redshirt freshman quarterback Cooper Rush threw a pick-six to linebacker D.J. Green, giving the Wolfpack a 7-0 lead. It was one of three interceptions he had in the game. He also threw a touchdown pass and completed 16-of-37 passes for 165 yards.
Enos was less concerned about an interception he called a “50-50 ball” to junior receiver Titus Davis in the fourth quarter than the other two.
“The first one, the backer buzzed underneath the outside slant and he should have pulled it into the inside slant and the second one we had a guy open and he just said the ball got away from him,” Enos said. “So yeah, there’s some growing pains there, but he’s a tough young man.”
Rashard Smith extended N.C. State’s lead to 28-0 with 6:54 left in the second quarter on a 67-yard punt return for a touchdown, one of four scored in the second.
When the Wolfpack were not scoring non-offensive touchdowns, they were running it in, without a passing game to rely on since its quarterback Pete Thomas threw four interceptions entering the game.
Running back Shadrach Thornton cut right through the middle and took it 29 yards for a touchdown run, and Matt Dayes added another on a 42 yard rush, making it 21-0 with 8:53 left in the first half.
The Chippewas could not duplicate the Wolfpack’s performance in the run game.
The holes Saylor Lavallii found against Toledo on his way to 144 rushing yards were closed. He had nine yards on 10 carries in the first half and 27 yards for the game.
“I thought their team was really good, especially on defense,” Enos said. “Their defensive line was dominant. As we watched them this week that was one of our big concerns coming into the game because how good they were.”
CMU had its two best chances at a score in the first quarter on two drives in which a touchdown would have tied the game.
Junior receiver Courtney Williams had a 54-yard kick return, putting the ball at the Wolfpack’s 39-yard line. But CMU got pushed back three yards before punting.
Redshirt freshman kicker Ron Coluzzi missed a 38-yard field goal for the first time this season after the Chippewas moved the ball 59 yards on 10 plays.
“We just stayed positive and came out each series ready to work and tried to get in the end zone as much as we can,” receiver Titus Davis said. “But, at the end of the day, we got to score and our offense has got to keep moving.”