Matt Dayes missed N.C. State’s 24-8 win at Boston College on Saturday but he didn’t miss out on the post-game celebration.
Annabelle Myers, an assistant athletic director for N.C. State, was able to FaceTime with Dayes on her cell phone in the locker room. Wolfpack quarterback Jacoby Brissett said it was good to share the moment, N.C. State’s first ACC road win over the Eagles, with the injured running back.
“We told him we had his back,” Brissett said.
Dayes, a junior, led the Wolfpack in rushing (865 yards) and the ACC in rushing touchdowns (12), before he injured his left foot against Clemson on Oct. 31. Dayes had surgery on Friday and will miss the rest of the season.
Never miss a local story.
Without Dayes, who was averaging 108.1 yards per game in eight games, N.C. State coach Dave Doeren went with a run-by-committee approach against a tough Boston College defense. The Eagles entered the game allowing only 64.2 rushing yards per game, tops in the country, but the Wolfpack was able to scratch out 139 yards on 33 carries, including a 35-yard touchdown by freshman Reggie Gallaspy and a 5-yard touchdown run by sophomore Jaylen Samuels.
“We’re just trying to use the kids that we have, the best that we can,” Doeren said.
That includes freshman Nyheim Hines. A star running back at Garner High last year, Hines moved to receiver because there was so much depth at running back in the preseason.
With Shadrach Thornton dismissed from the team and Dayes injured, Hines got his first snaps at running back against the Eagles. He finished with seven carries for 23 yards, to go with one catch for 5 yards, in his busiest game in a Wolfpack uniform.
“We have to get him touches,” Doeren said. “Every time he catches a kick return everybody stands up. We have to find a way to get the ball in his hands as much as we can.”
Doeren went into the game intent on getting more work for Gallaspy and Dakwa Nichols and he did. Gallaspy had five carries for 35 yards. His touchdown, at 12:25 in the third quarter, effectively put the game away for N.C. State.
Gallaspy ran untouched from 35 yards out after Boston College’s defense followed Samuels on a play fake. Samuels scored on a similar play in the second quarter, which set up Gallaspy’s score.
“I just saw the hole and I knew it was wide open,” Gallaspy said.
Gallaspy led N.C. State with 35 rushing yards, Samuels and Brissett both had 32, Hines had 23 and Nichols added five carries for 17 yards.
Samuels, who spent the first eight games in a hybrid tight end/slot back role, got a career-high eight carries and started in Dayes’ place. He was still active in the passing game with seven catches for 38 yards.
“I’m doing a lot of things now,” Samuels said. “We just have to find out what we all can do.”
Brissett was impressed with how the running backs were able to fill in for Dayes. The senior quarterback was disappointed on Friday with the news of Dayes’ injury.
“Of course,” Brissett said, “but you have to move on.”
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio