RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — After freshman Shadrach Thornton scored his first career touchdown early in North Carolina State's 52-14 victory over The Citadel on Saturday night, Wolfpack coach Tom O'Brien sought out Thornton on the sideline for a quick conversation.
The message was brief — N.C. State was going to call on Thornton for more.
Thornton proved to be up to the challenge in his first career game, running for 145 yards and two touchdowns in the Wolfpack's convincing win.
"He's a good football player," O'Brien said. "We knew that, and we saw that; as the (preseason) scrimmages went on, he got a lot of work in the fourth scrimmage because we wanted to see (him) because you never know."
The Wolfpack (3-1) called on Thornton because its top three running backs on the depth chart were unavailable. Even with Mustafa Greene (suspension), James Washington (injury) and Tony Creecy (injury) missing the game, N.C. State managed to run for a season-high 284 yards, eclipsing the previous best of 127 against South Alabama.
Thornton, a native of Hinesville, Ga., had the majority of those yards. He finished off the Wolfpack's opening drive with a 19-yard touchdown run where he showed nice vision in cutting back against the grain.
"I dreamed it, I wrote it down as a goal," Thornton said when asked if he ever expected such a moment during his freshman year.
The Wolfpack scored touchdowns on five of its six drives in the first half to build a commanding 35-point halftime lead.
N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon ran for two touchdowns and passed for one more. The senior completed 19 of 24 passes for 233 yards to lead N.C. State to its third straight victory after its season-opening loss to Tennessee.