Finley leads NC State over Marshall 37-20
By JOHN RABY, AP Sports Writer
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (AP) — North Carolina State remains unbeaten after its first road trip and after being handed a week off by Hurricane Florence.
Ryan Finley threw for 377 yards and a touchdown to lead North Carolina State to a 37-20 victory over Marshall on Saturday night.
Kelvin Harmon caught six passes for 150 yards, all in the first half, and Reggie Gallaspy had two short TD runs for the Wolfpack (3-0), who never trailed in their final tuneup to next weekend’s start of the ACC schedule.
Both teams were idle last week after their respective games were called off. North Carolina State surpassed 500 yards of offense for the second straight game.
“I think we’ve handled our business and that’s all you can do,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “We’ve put ourselves in a good position going into conference play. We’re right where we want to be. “
N.C. State’s C.J. Riley fumbled after a hard hit from Jaquan Yulee on a kickoff early in the third quarter. Marshalls’ Artis Johnson scooped up the loose ball and went 22 yards for a touchdown to pull the Thundering Herd within 23-17.
Finley, who completed 23 of 40 passes, then took the Wolfpack 75 yards in six plays, finding Emeka Emezie with a 30-yard scoring toss to push the lead back to double digits to stay.
“I thought the guys responded,” Doeren said. “That is what I was most proud of tonight. It seemed like every time they got momentum, we just — bam — we were right back on them. I love that — that resiliency is a very positive thing for our football team to show them tonight.”
Marshall redshirt freshman Isaiah Green, who threw five TD passes over the first two games, was under constant pressure and completed 22 of 43 passes for 270 yards. He was intercepted twice.
“You go through some growing pains with freshmen, unfortunately,” Marshall coach Doc Holliday said. “He’ll get better every week.”
Green overthrew Obi Obialo after a long scramble at the end of the quarter and Jarius Morehead returned the interception 57 yards to put the Wolfpack on top 37-20. Green also had a first-half fumble that led to a Wolfpack field goal.
The outcome could have been greater. Four North Carolina State drives stalled inside the Marshall 20-yard line and the Wolfpack converted three short field goals. Another field goal try went off an upright.
Marshall (2-1) was held to a season-low 324 yards. Tyre Brady was limited to three catches for 25 yards after amassing 11 catches for 248 yards last year against the Wolfpack, which Morehead said his teammates “took it in a personal way.”
North Carolina State: Finley is good and he again got the backing of his defense, which has allowed 33 points in three games.
Marshall: After losing to North Carolina State on the road in their four previous meetings, Marshall couldn’t take advantage of home-field advantage and fell to 3-11 against Power 5 opponents since 2010.
Finley threw several high passes that forced his wide receivers to leave their feet and get exposed to hard hits. Emezie was tackled hard twice on the same drive in the second quarter, including getting flipped by Marshall safety Malik Gant. In the first quarter Thayer Thomas went high for a pass, got hit and went to the ground hard. Thomas left the field on his own and did not return.
North Carolina State’s ground game statistically didn’t show a ton of improvement despite having Southern California transfer Cary Angeline, who was cleared to play at tight end. The Wolfpack entered the game averaging 3.3 yards per rush and averaged 3.5 against Marshall. Gallaspy tied a career-high 81 yards on 22 carries. Still, Doeren said his running game was “a lot better. It looked like we were winning the line of scrimmage a lot more.”
Marshall was limited to 54 yards on the ground.
North Carolina State: Opens ACC play next Saturday at home against Virginia in their first meeting since 2012.
Marshall: Visits Western Kentucky next Saturday.
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