N.C. State added two late touchdowns to finish off Georgia State 41-7 on Saturday.
While the game was still tight, these five (non-scoring plays) helped the Wolfpack improve to 18-2 against teams from outside of the Power 5 conferences during Dave Doeren’s tenure:
1. Thayer Thomas sets the tone
Score: Georgia State 7, N.C. State 0
Time: 12:29, first quarter
Field position: first and 10 at the N.C. State 43
Thayer Thomas just might turn out to be everything the Wolfpack fans had hoped Bo Hines would be.
Hines was one of the first players Doeren recruited when he was hired six years ago. Hines was a prototypical slot receiver (6-1, 205 pounds) and led N.C. State in catches (45) and yards (616) in 2014 before he decided it would be in the best interest of his political future to transfer to Yale.
Thomas, a redshirt freshman (6-1, 193 pounds), runs good routes, has good hands and good speed. He caught nine passes for 114 yards against the Panthers while subbing in for Jakobi Meyers, who missed the game with an ankle injury.
Thomas got to work right away on N.C. State’s first play from scrimmage. Out of the slot to Ryan Finley’s left, he sold a corner route before breaking it off into the middle of the field in front of GSU safety DeAndre Applin. Thomas jumped and made the acrobatic catch for a 23-yard gain.
If anyone had any concerns about Thomas’ ability to fill in for Meyers, that was a quick answer. Thomas closed out the same drive with a one-handed catch on an exquisite throw from Finley to tie the game at 7.
2. Drinkwitz’s bag of tricks
Score: N.C. State 7, Georgia State 7
Time: 6:11, first quarter
Field position: first and 10 at the N.C. State 21
N.C. State offensive coordinator Eli Drinkwitz wasn’t exactly amused earlier in the week when he was asked about the play-calling in the 24-13 win over James Madison.
On the second drive against the Panthers, Drinkwitz dipped into his bag of tricks for a double pass. It also happened to be the perfect call for the defense GSU was in.
N.C. State came out with two receivers split wide to Finley’s right and left. Thomas and receiver Kelvin Harmon were split far out to Finley’s right and running back Trent Pennix was offset behind the quarterback.
Finley took the snap and quickly threw it out to Thomas, who took a step back so the first pass was a lateral. Thomas caught Finley’s pass at the 15-yard line. Georgia State was in a two-deep zone. The Panthers were focused on the split receivers and treated Pennix like he was a ghost.
Thomas softly lofted the ball out for Pennix along the right hash and the freshman running back from Sanderson caught it at the 50-yard line and then ran for 29 more yards down the sideline.
The drive stalled at the Georgia State 7-yard line but freshman kicker Chris Dunn came on and made a 25-yard field goal to give the Wolfpack a 10-7 lead.
3. C.J. Riley delivers on fourth down
Score: N.C. State 10, Georgia State 7
Time: 11:49, second quarter
Field position: fourth and 2 at the Georgia State 23
Things NFL quarterbacks can do: make plays outside the pocket, throw on the run, make throws deep to the sideline.
Check, check and check for Finley on this fourth-down throw to sophomore receiver C.J. Riley. On fourth and 2 from the Georgia State 23, Finley rolled to the short side of the field. Both Emeka Emezie and Riley ran out routes. He had Emezie short and Riley deep.
On the move, Finley rolled out and hit Riley on the numbers at the 3-yard line. This is the type of throw Jon Gruden used to love to dissect with prospects on “Gruden’s QB Camp” before the NFL draft.
Two plays later, senior running back Reggie Gallaspy punched in a 1-yard touchdown run for a 17-7 lead.
4. Another big catch for Thomas
Score: N.C. State 17, Georgia State 7
Time: :16, second quarter
Field position: second and 10 at the Georgia State 34
After Brandon Wright missed a 44-yard field goal, N.C. State got the ball back with 46 seconds left at its own 27-yard line.
Finley completed two passes to Harmon, one for 5 yards and another for 34, to get the ball into Georgia State territory. On second and 10 from the Georgia State 34, Thomas got behind the defense near the N.C. State sideline.
Finley found Thomas at the 18 and was able to get the ball down to the 10 with 5 seconds left in the half. N.C. State called its last timeout to bring Dunn out for a 28-yard field goal to end the first half.
Finley finished the first half with a tidy 15-of-18 effort for 218 yards and a touchdown
5. Tanner Ingle delivers on fourth down
Score: N.C. State 20, Georgia State 7
Time: 9:20, third quarter
Field position: fourth and 1 at the N.C. State 41
Georgia State had a chance to put some game pressure on the Wolfpack. The Panthers came up with a stop on fourth down on N.C. State’s previous possession and had the ball in Wolfpack territory.
Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott took a chance, which was good, but went for a little razzle dazzle on fourth and short, which was bad.
GSU quarterback Dan Ellington handed the ball to receiver Devin Gentry, who was coming in motion toward the GSU sideline.
Gentry flipped the ball to receiver Penny Hart, who was running the other way.
Freshman nickel Tanner Ingle spotted Hart and made a beeline for him behind the line of scrimmage. Ingle took off from the 34 and then closed out on Hart at the 47.
N.C. State defensive end Darian Roseboro slowed Hart down but Ingle finished it up with a big hit. It was one of seven tackles for Ingle.