Quarterback Matt McKay, a redshirt sophomore making his first collegiate start, ran for two touchdowns and threw for another as North Carolina State controlled visiting East Carolina in a 34-6 season-opening victory Saturday afternoon in Raleigh, N.C.
McKay ran for a 21-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter to help the Wolfpack put the game out of reach. He played the first 3 1/2 quarters, finishing 25 of 37 for 308 yards with through the air and no interceptions, and he tacked on 35 rushing yards on six carries.
McKay took over after three-year starter Ryan Finley’s eligibility expired and he went to the NFL.
It was the debut for East Carolina coach Mike Houston, who took over after leaving James Madison.
East Carolina quarterback Holton Ahlers was 22 of 39 for 168 yards. The Pirates were held to 41 rushing yards.
NC State has won its last 10 home openers. In seven such openers under coach Dave Doeren, the Wolfpack hasn’t surrendered more than 23 points in a game.
Still, this was more competitive than last year’s 58-3 romp for the Wolfpack in the regular-season finale against East Carolina.
This time, East Carolina took the opening possession and went 75 yards, only to have Ahlers fumble as he approached the goal line. NC State safety Jarius Morehead recovered in the end zone
The Wolfpack responded by going 80 yards and scoring on freshman running back Zonovan Knight’s 9-yard run on his first career carry.
Jake Verity’s 52-yard field goal attempt for East Carolina was wide right early in the second quarter. He connected earlier from 47 yards and then from 31 yards with 1:18 remaining in the game.
McKay ran 4 yards on what appeared to be a busted play for a touchdown with 51 seconds to play in the first half, helping the Wolfpack to a 17-3 lead.
Graduate transfer Tabari Hines, who was a problem for the Wolfpack when he played for Wake Forest, scored for NC State on a 48-yard catch-and-run early in the third quarter to extend the lead to 24-3.
—Field Level Media