Pack pummels Gardner-Webb

Wilson breaks passing record

Staff WriterSeptember 20, 2009 

— N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson's teammates tried to congratulate him after the Carter-Finley Stadium video board announced that he had broken a national record.

Wilson wouldn't even acknowledge it.

N.C. State was ahead comfortably in the third quarter of a 45-14 defeat of Gardner-Webb on Saturday. But Wilson was looking ahead instead of basking in his accomplishment.

"He was like, 'On to the next play,' " N.C. State offensive tackle Jeraill McCuller said.

Wilson extended his streak of passes without an interception to 329, breaking the Division I-A/Football Bowl Subdivision record of 325 set by Kentucky's Andre Woodson in 2006-07.

Throwing for a career-high 345 yards with four touchdown passes, Wilson completed 26 of 36 attempts. Late in the third quarter, he broke Woodson's record on a 13-yard pass to freshman running back James Washington.

After consecutive blowout defeats of overmatched Football Championship Subdivision foes Murray State and Gardner-Webb (2-1), the Wolfpack quickly began looking ahead to a bigger challenge.

Immediately after his postgame news conference, Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien was informed by an N.C. State official that Pittsburgh had just defeated Navy, his alma mater, 27-14.

Pittsburgh, one of the favorites to win the Big East, is 3-0 and visits Raleigh this week. O'Brien and his players acknowledged that the tempo is about to increase for the Wolfpack (2-1).

"We've just got to keep it going," Wilson said. "We've got to keep the streak going, and we've got to keep the wins going."

It appears that won't be easy. Pittsburgh's offense, directed by former North Carolina coordinator Frank Cignetti Jr., is averaging 39.7 points per game.

Meanwhile, N.C. State's secondary is inexperienced and battling injuries. Freshman starting cornerback Rashard Smith left Saturday's game with a sprained ankle in the first half.

Another freshman, Brandan Bishop, started at free safety because senior Clem Johnson had a thigh injury. N.C. State's other starting safety, Earl Wolff, is a redshirt freshman.

"We just played Gardner-Webb, and we just played Murray State," Wolff said. "Pittsburgh is a little better team, so we have to practice better and practice harder."

Injuries and illness are taking their toll on other areas of the team, too. Wide receiver Donald Bowens and cornerback DeAndre Morgan played for the first time this season in reserve roles, but other key players weren't so fortunate.

Left offensive tackle Jake Vermiglio (left leg) and running back Jamelle Eugene (knee) missed their second straight games. Wide receiver Owen Spencer suffered a concussion in the second quarter and did not return.

The injured players' status for Pittsburgh might not be known until N.C. State releases its injury report after Thursday's practice. The Wolfpack's roster also was depleted last week as the flu made its way through the team.

Starting offensive lineman Julian Williams and reserve wide receiver Jay Smith missed Saturday's game because of the H1N1 virus. O'Brien said the Wolfpack started slowly Saturday, perhaps because the flu had worn out the team.

But he was optimistic that the worst effects of the flu are behind his team. Late Saturday night, he said there hadn't been a case diagnosed on the team since Friday.

"We're keeping our fingers crossed," O'Brien said.

Maybe that will work. And maybe Morgan has returned at exactly the right time.

Morgan, who suffered an ankle injury in the second-to-last preseason scrimmage, is back to possibly shore up a secondary that can use his experience and skills.

"I think we'll be fine," Morgan said.

Nonetheless, even as Wolfpack fans celebrate a national record and two straight wins, their most anticipated moment all week might come Thursday evening when the injury report is released.

N.C. State 45, Gardner-Webb 14

Gardner-Webb

0

0

7

7

--

14

N.C. State

21

10

7

7

--

45

FIRST QUARTER

NCSt--Baker 11 run (Czajkowski kick), 10:39. NCSt--Baker 2 run (Czajkowski kick), 5:11. NCSt--Graham 24 pass from R.Wilson (Czajkowski kick), :49.

SECOND QUARTER

NCSt--FG Czajkowski 41, 10:23. NCSt--Bryan 17 pass from R.Wilson (Czajkowski kick), :52.

THIRD QUARTER

NCSt--Bryan 12 pass from R.Wilson (Czajkowski kick), 10:17. GWb--Sanders 18 run (Gates kick), 6:30.

FOURTH QUARTER

NCSt--Ja.Williams 16 pass from R.Wilson (Czajkowski kick), 14:56. GWb--Doolittle 1 run (Gates kick), 2:42.

GWb

NCSt

First downs

13

29

Rushes-yards

36-101

31-112

Passing

112

365

Comp-Att-Int

14-22-0

29-40-0

Return Yards

0

47

Punts

9-40.9

2-38.0

Fumbles-Lost

2-0

2-1

Penalties-Yards

11-106

6-65

Time of Possession

30:16

29:44

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING--Gardner-Webb, Peoples 9-36, Sanders 1-18, Hall 12-18, Montgomery 2-12, Doolittle 9-9, B.Jackson 3-8. N.C. State, Baker 10-71, Barnes 6-27, Washington 6-25, R.Wilson 7-15, Glennon 1-(minus 5), Team 1-(minus 21).

PASSING--Gardner-Webb, Doolittle 14-22-0-112. N.C. State, R.Wilson 26-36-0-345, Glennon 3-4-0-20.

RECEIVING--Gardner-Webb, Perry 4-28, Miller 3-28, Patmon 2-34, Melton 2-14, Sanders 1-8, Lyndo.Leslie 1-5, Montgomery 1-(minus 5). N.C. State, Bryan 6-89, Graham 5-52, Davis 4-71, Baker 3-36, Ja.Williams 2-49, T.Gentry 2-19, Bowens 2-17, Washington 2-16, Howard 1-7, Watson 1-6, Ritcher 1-3. Att.--53,452.

ktysiac@charlotteobserver.com or 919-829-8942

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