by Joe Schwartz
RALEIGH — Russell Wilson set the all-time NCAA mark for consecutive attempted passes without an interception as N.C. State cruised to a 45-7 win against Gardner-Webb on Saturday night.
Wilson's record, which now stands at 329 after eclipsing Kentucky signal-caller Andre Woodson's 2006-07 total of 325, provided the only drama as the Wolfpack beat their second Football Championship Subdivision team in as many weeks.
This game didn't look quite as much like a rapid-fire scoring Techmo Bowl mismatch (see Murray State last week), but N.C. State wasn't challenged as Wilson looked comfortable throwing 26 for 36 for a career high 345 yards with four touchdowns. He didn't toss a pick for the 13th straight game.
Wilson, speaking in front of a plaque of Roman Gabriel, an N.C. State legend atquarterback, didn't want to make much of his accomplishment.
"I had to make sure I got the next play off," he said, adding that he didn't know what he'd done until the crowd roared. "I'm never satisfied and I've got to keep getting better every week."
If he does, he'll probably have his own plaque some day.
Sadly, Wilson's record, which game with about three minutes to go in the third quarter on a 13-yard dump off to James Washington, wasn't seen by many of the Wolfpack faithful, who had already cleared out by halftime, the score 31-0. The remaining fans, both diehard and knowledgeable, gave the sophomore standout a rousing ovation. Wilson rewarded them by capping off the drive with his final TD toss, a 16-yard connection with Jarvis Williams.
He was, as usual, on target all day. He led his team on a 10-play 57-yard touchdown opening drive capped by an 11-yard run by Toney Baker, who's looking stronger by the game after coming back from a severe knee injury that sidelined him for most of the past two years.
Baker scored again on the Wolfpack's second possession, this time from two yards out on an 11-play 60 yard drive. Wilson added a 24 yard touchdown pass to T.J. Graham before Josh Czajkowski kicked a 41-yard field goal to make it 24-0 on four straight scoring drives.
The rest was history.
- Donald Bowens, a Wolfpack wideout who missed all of last year with back fractures, returned for the first time since 2007. Cornerback DeAndre Morgan also made his debut this season after recovering from an ankle injury.
- George Bryan, a sophomore tight end, exploited the blitz by sneaking across the middle all night. He ended the game with six grabs for 89 yards and two touchdowns, all career highs.
- Wilson had 174 yards in the air in the first quarter, the best quarter for any Wolfpack quarterback since Philip Rivers tallied 182 yards against UNC in 2003.