RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Russell Wilson had four touchdown passes for the second straight week, threw for a career-high 345 yards and set an NCAA passing record in North Carolina State's 45-14 rout of Gardner-Webb on Saturday night.
Toney Baker had two early scoring runs before Wilson threw touchdown passes covering 17 and 12 yards to George Bryan, 24 yards to T.J. Graham and 16 yards to Jarvis Williams for the Wolfpack (2-1).
For most of the game, the only question was whether Wilson would play long enough to break the NCAA record of 325 consecutive passes without an interception, a mark set by Kentucky's Andre Woodson from 2006-07. He entered 32 attempts behind Woodson but surpassed him late in the third quarter with a 13-yard dump-off over the middle to running back James Washington.
Six plays later, Wilson threw his fourth touchdown pass — the strike to Williams that capped his night and extended the pick-free streak to 329.
His 26 completions and 36 attempts were career highs, and he easily sailed past his 279-yard outing in last year's 41-10 upset of North Carolina.
N.C. State scored the first four times it touched the ball, led 24-0 before Gardner-Webb crossed midfield and routed a Football Championship Subdivision team for the second time in eight days.
Coming off last week's 65-7 rout of Murray State, N.C. State expected more of a test from the Bulldogs. They returned 10 starters from a defense that last year held Georgia Tech more than 200 yards rushing below its average in a 10-7 loss.
But Gardner-Webb (2-1) was no match for a Wolfpack team that outgained the Bulldogs 477-213 and kept them off the scoreboard until Marquis Sanders' 18-yard scoring run midway through the third quarter.
Baker got the rout started by capping each of the Wolfpack's first two lengthy possessions with touchdown runs. His spinning, 11-yard scoring run closed out a 10-play opening drive, and he followed that by plowing in from 2 yards out to make it 14-0.
The Wolfpack welcomed back receiver Donald Bowens, who checked in shortly before halftime for his first game action since 2007; he missed last season with a stress fracture in his lower back and also had knee surgery. But they lost another player: Owen Spencer suffered a concussion while attempting to make a catch late in the second quarter and did not return.
Aside from Wilson's personal accomplishments, this one was little more than a glorified scrimmage for N.C. State. Teams may count only one victory against an FCS team per season toward bowl eligibility, and the Wolfpack already claimed theirs last week.
But it also was a welcome final tuneup for coach Tom O'Brien's team before it faces college football's big boys again: Pittsburgh, the favorite to win the Big East, visits next week, and a trip to instate rival Wake Forest looms after that. The only Football Bowl Subdivision team N.C. State has faced so far — South Carolina — held the Wolfpack without a touchdown in winning the opener 7-3.
Stan Doolittle was 14-for-22 for 112 yards and rushed 1 yard for a touchdown in the closing minutes for Gardner-Webb.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun