Joe Scelfo was happy to be on the right side of Matt Dayes on Thursday night.
Scelfo played for South Alabama last season and could only marvel at Dayes’ three-touchdown performance against the Jaguars in a lopsided Wolfpack win.
Scelfo, a graduate transfer, started with Dayes for N.C. State in Thursday’s 48-14 win over William & Mary. Scelfo, an all-conference center last season at South Alabama, helped Dayes rush for 138 yards in the Wolfpack’s season-opener.
“I’m glad he’s on my team,” Scelfo said.
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Dayes was back in his old form against the Tribe. He averaged 6.0 yards per carry on 23 rushing attempts and scored N.C. State’s first two touchdowns.
The senior running back was on pace to become N.C. State’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2002 last season before a toe injury sidelined him late in the second quarter of the eighth game of the season. He still finished the season with 12 rushing touchdowns and 865 yards.
Matt’s one of the best players I’ve been around. He makes cuts and sets your blocks up. I mean, it’s something that I’ve never played with.
NC State lineman Joe Scelfo on running back Matt Dayes
New offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz didn’t waste any time getting Dayes involved on Thursday. Dayes touched the ball on the first play of the game, a 4-yard catch, and six times on the eight-play coordinator’s dream of an opening drive.
“Matt’s one of the best players I’ve been around,” Scelfo said. “He makes cuts and sets your blocks up. I mean, it’s something that I’ve never played with.”
N.C. State coach Dave Doeren had been eager to see a healthy Dayes back on the field. The Wolfpack coach was pleased with what he saw. There was only one other thing he wanted out of Dayes.
“I would have loved to see him play a little more,” Doeren said. “There were times where he got tired. I think playing at the tempo, it takes time to get used to playing that fast the whole game.”
Dayes scored on touchdown runs of 5 and 4 yards in the first half. He nearly had a third touchdown in the third quarter. After a short punt, Dayes popped off a 30-yard run to get the ball to William & Mary’s 3-yard line.
He appeared to score on first down but was ruled short of the goal line. He go the ball on the next two plays but could not get into the end zone.
On fourth-and-1, quarterback Ryan Finley went off script and tried to catch the Tribe’s defense off guard and sneak the ball in.
“He ran a sneak on fourth-and-1, which he shouldn’t have done,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “That was not the play call. Turn around and hand the ball off to your tailback.”
Finley joked after the game he got a little greedy but said he should have given the ball to Dayes.
After putting up 521 yards of total offense and scoring on seven of the first 10 drives of the game, the goal-line stall was one of only hiccups for the Wolfpack offense.
“We have to score on that fourth-and-1,” Scelfo said. “We have to fix that and fix some things.”
Giglio: 919-829-8938, @jwgiglio