TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — The best teams continue to bring out the best in N.C. State running back Shadrach Thornton.
The sophomore ran for a career-high 173 yards on 23 carries in the Wolfpack’s 49-17 loss to No. 3 Florida State on Saturday.
In three career games against top-10 opponents, Thornton has four touchdowns. He had a 72-yard touchdown run and a 1-yard touchdown run against No. 3 FSU on Saturday.
“I just come to play, every chance I get,” Thornton said. “The O-line blocked great and I found a seam, found a hole and got me to the secondary.”
Thornton also caught five passes for 32 yards against the Seminoles. He accounted for 205 of N.C. State’s 316 yards of offense.
Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said Thornton, who scored a touchdown earlier this season against then-No. 3 Clemson, has been consistently impressive in practice.
“When you show up and you’re the same guy every day, then you’re going to continue to get better and better,” Doeren said. “That’s what he has done for the last month (in practice).”
Thornton got N.C. State on the scoreboard with a 72-yard touchdown run at the end of the third quarter. He jumped over one FSU defender about 10 yards down the field and then out-raced their secondary down the left sideline.
His second touchdown, at 7:16 in the fourth quarter, came on a jet sweep across the formation for a 1-yard score.
Thornton, who had 46 yards on 10 carries in the first half, was disappointed his scores came too late to affect the outcome.
“I felt like I should have made plays earlier in the first half,” Thornton said.
Thornton had a 24-yard touchdown catch in N.C. State’s 17-16 win over then-No. 3 FSU last year. He had a 21-yard touchdown run against Clemson earlier this season and a 16-yard touchdown run against Clemson last year, when the Tigers were ranked No. 11.
Five of his eight career touchdowns have come against ranked opponents.
TOUGH RETURN FOR MITCHELL
Quarterback Brandon Mitchell was eager to play in his first game since August, maybe too eager.
Mitchell, who missed five games with a broken bone in his left foot, threw an interception on his first pass attempt of the game.
He finished with two interceptions and completed 17 of 33 passes for 128 yards. He ran 11 times for minus-1 yard, which includes three sacks.
“It felt great to get back out there, but obviously I didn’t perform the way I wanted to perform,” Mitchell said.
Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said he thought Mitchell tried to do too much at the start of the game.
“He pressed a little bit and tried to make too many plays and then settled down and started to play better as the game went on,” Doeren said.
FALLING FOR THE FAKE
Up 35-0 in the second quarter, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher called for a fake punt near midfield, which running back Karlos Williams turned into a 17-yard gain and a first down.
N.C. State coach Dave Doeren called a timeout after the play to talk to his players but he wasn’t upset at Fisher for the call.
“I was just mad we didn’t stop it,” Doeren said. “We had a guy there; we missed a tackle. We actually had an extra guy to that side, we just didn’t make a play.”
Fisher defended the decision as a chance to build momentum going into the half. The Noles scored two plays later to make it 42-0 at the break.
“I didn’t want them to come back and we had the opportunity to run it and get momentum,” Fisher said.