Saturday, August 31, 2019

NC State Cruises to 34-6 Win Over ECU in Season Opener

RALEIGH – Coming into Saturday afternoon’s game against East Carolina, NC State had significant question marks on offense after losing their top playmakers to graduation. Half of the career starts for the entire Wolfpack offense coming into the game were by two members of their offensive line. No returning players had ever made a start at quarterback, running back, center, or left tackle. The inexperience didn’t phase the Wolfpack, though, as redshirt sophomore quarterback Matthew McKay (making his first career start) eclipsed the 300-yard mark in a 34-6 win over East Carolina.

East Carolina started the game on fire behind the arm and legs of sophomore Holton Ahlers. The Greenville native started the game 6-6 on the first drive and moved the Pirates inside the Wolfpack 10-yard line, but a big hit by State’s Tanner Ingle loosened the ball from Ahlers’s grip at the goal line and it was recovered by Jarius Morehead for the touchback.

NC State wasted no time seizing the opportunity to get their new offense out on the field. Two runs by Ricky Person and catches by Thayer Thomas put the Wolfpack into scoring position in a hurry and freshman Zonovan Knight punched it in from nine yards out to give the home team an early 7-0 lead.

The Pirates got on the scoreboard on the next drive with a 47-yard Jake Verity field goal to bring the Pirates within four points, a margin that would carry into the second quarter. ECU tried to make it a one-point game early in the second quarter, but a 52-yard field goal attempt went wide. NC State drove down to the ECU 9-yard line but was forced to settle for a 27-yard Christopher Dunn Field goal. When a busted play resulted in another NC State touchdown late in the half, it was clear that fate was on the side of the Wolfpack on this afternoon.

NC State made it a three-score game in the third quarter when McKay found a streaking Tabari Hines down the right sideline for a 48-yard score for the only points of the third quarter. The fourth quarter went like the rest of the game with the ECU offense unable to get much movement due to a swarming NC State defense and the Wolfpack offense methodically moving down the field. When Matthew McKay went 21 yards on a keeper around the left side and hit the end zone, it was the final exclamation point on the day.

With the victory today, NC State has now won ten straight home openers and all seen under head coach Dave Doeren. Both teams will face in-state FCS opponents next Saturday as NC State (1-0) hosts Western Carolina of the Southern Conference while ECU (1-0) hosts the Big South’s Gardner-Webb.

Notable North Carolinians
Matthew McKay (Wakefield) – The redshirt sophomore went 25 of 37 for 308 yards and a score in his first-ever start at quarterback. He also rushed for two touchdowns on the afternoon.

Chris Ingram (Mooresville) – The junior cornerback picked off one pass and led the team with seven solo tackles

Christopher Dunn (North Davidson) – The sophomore kicker was good from 27 and 34 yards out, 4-4 on PAT attempts, and routinely made the Pirates start deep in their own territory.