RALEIGH — N.C. State's 35-13 win over South Alabama on Saturday night confirmed what the Wolfpack already knew - it's better than a Football Championship Subdivision opponent.
Quarterback Mike Glennon threw four touchdown passes in the Wolfpack's second win over a lower level Division I team this season and seventh in five years under coach Tom O'Brien.
The Jaguars, 19-0 since they started the program in 2009, made the Wolfpack earn the win on wet, misty night in Raleigh.
"Some teams aren't pretty and we're certainly not a pretty team but we found a way to get it done," O'Brien said.
A big part of State's success came from Glennon, who completed 17-of-20 passes for 274 yards with four touchdowns. He has thrown for 745 yards and eight touchdowns through the first three games of the season.
Glennon hit his first nine passes of the game, including the first of two touchdown passes to fullback Taylor Gentry to give the Wolfpack a 14-3 halftime lead.
Glennon hit Gentry again in the third quarter, from 5 yards out for a touchdown, and connected with receiver T.J. Graham (5 catches, 128 yards) for a 67-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter.
"I'll take what the defense gives us," Glennon said, which has become his stock answer in post-game interviews.
O'Brien was more complimentary of his first-year starter at quarterback.
"He's a good quarterback, I don't think there's any question about it," O'Brien said.
Coming off a lackluster defensive performance in a 34-27 loss at Wake Forest, N.C. State needed some momentum heading into Thursday's road trip to Cincinnati.
Since State already beat Liberty, an FCS team, in the opener, it can't use Saturday's win towards its bowl eligibility total.
State (2-1) needed Glennon's production to offset a stubborn effort by the Jaguars, who made it 21-10 in the third quarter and got a fumble from Glennon at the Wolfpack 39-yard line.
USA reached the Wolfpack 19, but a false start penalty -- one of nine compared to one for State -- forced the Jags to settle for a field goal attempt. USA kicker Jordan Means, who hit from 46 yards in the first half, missed a 44-yard wide left.
The Wolfpack responded with nine-play, 73-yard drive to take control for good on Curtis Underwood's 18-yard touchdown catch.
Since throwing for 156 yards in the opener (on 18-of-31 passes), Glennon has hit 41-of-61 for 589 yards and seven touchdowns -- three of 60 yards or more.
"I think the first game was an adjustment," said Glennon, a fourth-year junior who hadn't started since high school. "It just takes a little time to get used to playing. Now, that's not an issue."
The Wolfpack opened the game with a touchdown on the first possession.
James Washington capped a nine-play drive, aided by a 43-yard kickoff return by Graham, with a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Jaguars turned a Washington fumble on State's second possession into three points but didn't get back on the scoreboard until the third quarter. Demetre Baker's 8-yard touchdown run at 7:44 in the third made it 21-10.
Glennon atoned for his fumble by going 4-of-5 on the Pack's second scoring drive of the third quarter. He hit Washington for 29 yards, Graham for 10 and Tobais Palmer for nine before finding Underwood out of the backfield for the 18-yard touchdown.
State's defense, which had allowed 400 yards in the first two games, was better against the pass (182 yards) but USA freshman running back Kendall Houston rushed for 117 yards.
The Wolfpack defense only allowed one touchdown and came up with two interceptions, but senior linebacker Audie Cole wasn't satisfied with the effort.
"The defense is still making too many mistakes," Cole said. "I think we need to get a lot better."
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