It's funny how things work out. South Alabama probably has more talent than any other team on NC State's non-conference schedule. And South Alabama quickly moved the ball down the field on its initial possession to take a 7-0 lead. Then the Wolfpack took over, making mincemeat of the USA defense with big play after big play, and when it was all over, State had a 63-13 win.
It took only a few plays for State to respond to USA's opening jab, thanks to Matt Dayes and a timely Jaylen Samuels block that sprung him for 77 yards. That was the norm, not the exception. NC State scored 42 points in the first half, and was basically unstoppable. Once again the ground game was a major factor, but unlike the first three games, State found the big-gainers. And turnovers.
The Wolfpack turned over South Alabama three times in the first half, which compounded the Jaguars' shortcomings. Those turnovers were missing in the first three weeks, and that perhaps compressed the score beyond what the box scores might have implied. Tonight that was not at all the case. The points on the board and the box score were pretty well synced.
After Dayes' initial 77-yard score, the Wolfpack came back with a stop and a Shadrach Thornton 39-yard touchdown run, a stop and a Matt Dayes score, a stop and a Matt Dayes score. The initial nervous time was long gone by the end of the first quarter.
Jaylen Samuels scored twice in the second quarter to erase all doubt, and from there it was almost all garbage time. Jacoby Brissett was finished by the late stages of the third quarter, leaving ample time for Jalan McClendon and other reserves to get reps. Freshman running back Reggie Gallaspy was able to score the first touchdown of his career.
It was valuable time for the reserves, but it was also a bottom-line statement for a team that had yet to put everything together offensively. They did that Saturday night, and that was a fine way to end non-conference play, not the least because it was a whole lot of fun.