Wilson, NC State beat Cincinnati 30-19Sep 17, 2010 - 4:06 AM By AARON BEARD AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH, N.C.(AP) -- Russell Wilson looked a little more like his old self Thursday night, while the defense is showing some improvement of its own. Now North Carolina State is celebrating its best start to a season since Philip Rivers was at quarterback nearly a decade ago.
Wilson threw for 333 yards and three touchdowns to help the Wolfpack beat Cincinnati 30-19, giving N.C. State its first 3-0 start since 2002.
Jay Smith and Curtis Underwood Jr. had first-half touchdown catches, and Mustafa Greene had a 31-yard scoring run that gave N.C. State a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. The Wolfpack never trailed thanks to Wilson and a defense that pressured Zach Collaros much of the night, a welcome sign considering the questions that followed both coming into the season.
After Wilson's struggles last week at Central Florida, it seemed he was having some of the struggles coach Tom O'Brien predicted after he missed spring drills while concentrating on playing baseball for the Wolfpack, followed by spending the summer playing baseball in the Colorado Rockies' organization. O'Brien had said it would take time for Wilson to find his game again, though on Thursday night he played with the steady presence that made him an All-Atlantic Coast Conference quarterback as a freshman two seasons ago.
"I think, as we said all along, it was a matter of time," O'Brien said. "It was going to come. We were just hoping sooner rather than later, and tonight was a good night for him to get on."
Wilson completed 26 of 40 passes, including an 8-yard touchdown strike to Taylor Gentry with about 7 1/2 minutes left to make it 30-7. He also ran for 33 yards while evading the rush or keeping plays alive against the Bearcats (1-2), who could only watch as the Wolfpack piled up nearly 500 total yards.
Compare that to last weekend, when Wilson completed just 10 of 30 passes for 105 yards and a touchdown.
"I don't feel like I've really been rusty," he said. "I'm just trying to get into a rhythm, trying to continue to work one play at a time, and I did that tonight a little bit better I feel like. But at the same time, I've got a lot more work to do."
While Wilson had the offense going, N.C. State's defense did its part, too. The Wolfpack finished with five sacks, hurried Collaros four times and notched a fourth-and-1 stop early in the fourth quarter. The only blemish was allowing Cincinnati to score a pair of meaningless touchdowns in the final 6 1/2 minutes.
N.C. State also blocked a punt to set up Gentry's touchdown catch.
Collaros connected with D.J. Woods twice for touchdowns, the first from 68 yards late in the first half. But Cincinnati didn't run a play inside the N.C. State 32 until the final minutes, long after the Wolfpack had the game in hand.
"It's inexcusable," Bearcats coach Butch Jones said. "Our players have got to play better, our coaches have got to coach better, everything in our program."
At least Wilson and his teammates eased O'Brien's mind about playing a nationally televised game with only four days of rest. Not to mention give the much-criticized ACC - which has stumbled in its early nonconference matchups - a needed win against a team picked to tie for second in the Big East.
N.C. State is off to its best start since winning its first nine games behind Rivers, an eventual NFL first-round draft pick.
"It's huge," offensive guard R.J. Mattes said. "I couldn't even tell you the last time State was 3-0. That's crazy."
As for Cincinnati, things won't get any easier. After winning consecutive Big East titles and reaching the Sugar Bowl last season, the Bearcats opened with a loss at Fresno State in which they lost top receiver Vidal Hazelton to a knee injury - and will face No. 7 Oklahoma next weekend.
"Obviously, we weren't expecting these results," Collaros said. "Nobody hopes for this. We're going to see what our team is made out of these next couple of weeks with this adversity. It's going to test our character and test our togetherness, and we've just got to stick together. We'll right the ship."
- NCAAF FINAL
1ST 2ND 3RD 4TH TOTAL
--- --- --- --- -----
CINCINNATI 0 7 0 12 19
NC STATE 14 6 3 7 30 FINAL
1ST QUARTER: NC STATE - TD, JAY SMITH 16 YD PASS FROM
RUSSELL WILSON (JOSH
CZAJKOWSKI KICK), 5:34. NC
NC STATE - TD, MUSTAFA GREENE 31 YD RUN
(JOSH CZAJKOWSKI KICK), 9:39.
NC STATE 14-0
Sep 16 11:11 PM
NC STATE 30 0:00 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Sep 16 11:11 PM
MARCUS BARNETT 13 YD PASS FROM ZACH COLLAROS
(TWO-POINT PASS CONVERSION FAILED)
NC STATE 30 0:44 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Cincinnati 19, NC State 30 4th - 0:44Sep 16 11:08 PM
D.J. WOODS 20 YD PASS FROM ZACH COLLAROS
(TWO-POINT PASS CONVERSION FAILED)
NC STATE 30 6:26 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Cincinnati 13, NC State 30 4th - 6:26Sep 16 10:55 PM
NC STATE 30 7:27 LEFT, 4TH QTR
Cincinnati 7, NC State 30 4th - 7:27Sep 16 10:48 PM
NC STATE 23 0:00 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Sep 16 10:18 PM
NC STATE 23 8:02 LEFT, 3RD QTR
Cincinnati 7, NC State 23 3rd - 8:02Sep 16 10:02 PM
NC STATE 20 0:00 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Sep 16 9:27 PM
NC STATE 20 1:04 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Cincinnati 7, NC State 20 2nd - 1:04Sep 16 9:24 PM
NC STATE 14 3:12 LEFT, 2ND QTR
Cincinnati 7, NC State 14 2nd - 3:12Sep 16 9:17 PM
NC STATE 14 0:00 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Sep 16 8:35 PM
NC STATE 14 5:21 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Cincinnati 0, NC State 14 1st - 5:21Sep 16 8:19 PM
NC STATE 7 9:26 LEFT, 1ST QTR
Cincinnati 0, NC State 7 1st - 9:26Sep 16 7:59 PM
- NC State adds 2 graduate transfers to football program May 16
- Offense a priority this spring for ACC's Atlantic Division Apr 25
- Drinkwitz wants Wolfpack to build off spring in new offense Apr 9
- Georgia State hires veteran assistants Minter, McDonell Apr 1
- Riley announces departure of Nebraska DL coach Hank Hughes Feb 5
- Randy Moss' son headlines NC State's recruiting class Feb 3
- NC State hires Boise State's Drinkwitz to run offense Jan 11
- Pittsburgh hires Matt Canada as offensive coordinator Jan 8
- NC State TE Grinnage to skip final season, enter NFL draft Jan 6
- NC State dismisses offensive coordinator Matt Canada Jan 3
- Wolfpack losing key veterans after 2 straight bowl trips Dec 31
- Bowl Capsules Dec 31