NC State finishes nonconference play with 41-10 win over UConn to remain unbeaten

Karl B DeBlaker/AP

Before Clemson, there was Connecticut.

While next week’s game in Death Valley could be an ACC matchup of two Top 10 teams when the Tigers host the Wolfpack, N.C. State first needed to finish off its nonconference schedule against UConn.

The Pack did it Saturday by finishing off the Huskies – quickly. With quarterback Devin Leary on target and throwing for 320 yards and four touchdowns, the No. 12 Wolfpack rolled to a 41-10 victory at Carter-Finley Stadium to easily improve to 4-0.

Leary and receiver Thayer Thomas set the tone on the first play of the game, teaming up on a 75-yard touchdown. Thomas made a nice catch and cut and that was that. The rout was on.

By halftime, the Pack led 31-3. Leary had short TD passes to Devin Carter and Keyon Lesane and 275 yards on a 25-of-32 passing worksheet.

Leary, who spread the ball around and had 10 players catch passes, played into the fourth quarter and finished 32-44 passing as the Pack basically prepped for the Clemson game and its ACC opener.

Leary’s one big mistake: a forced throw over the middle that the Huskies’ Camryn Edwards picked off late in the first half and returned to the NCSU 11. But the Pack defense didn’t allow a TD as end Davin Vann forced a fumble on a sack, and UConn put up points on Noe Ruelas’ 28-yard field goal on the final play of the half.

It was the kind of game many expected. The Pack was a 39-point favorite over a UConn team that is in its first year under new coach Jim Mora and has dealt with injuries and inexperience.

The Huskies were smacked 59-0 at Michigan last week, then had another road game against a top 12 team. The result was predictable as the Wolfpack defense basically shut down everything – UConn had 59 yards in total offense in the first half – while the offense had its way with 18 first downs and 357 total yards in the half.

The Pack played without running back Jordan Houston and nickel defensive back Tyler Baker-Williams, both injured a week ago in the 27-14 win over Texas Tech, Neither was needed as Demie Sumo-Karngbaye and Delbert Mimms handled much of the rushing and the Pack’s depth on defense was more than enough.

UConn’s only touchdown came with 2:08 left in the game as running back Victor Rosa scored from 11 yards against the Wolfpack reserves.

On the first series of the second half, the Pack came up short on a trick play. Christopher Dunn, who had a 48-yard field goal in the first half, set up for a 38-yard attempt, then took a quick lateral from holder Shane McDonough but was stopped well short of a first down.

The second series was better for the Wolfpack: Leary hit Porter Rooks for a 4-yard score.

Much like the Charleston Southern game, a 55-3 win, the Pack was able to get a lot of players some snaps. Backup placekicker Collin Smith had a 40-yard field goal in the final quarter.

Jack Chambers finally took over for Leary with 9:55 remaining in the game and the Pack leading 41-3.