RALEIGH, N.C. – Russell Wilson passed for 306 yards and four touchdowns to help North Carolina State defeat Western Carolina 48-7 on Saturday night.
Wilson completed 21 of 31 passes, engineering seven consecutive scoring drives as the Wolfpack won their season opener for the first time in four tries under coach Tom O'Brien.
N.C. State, which scored three points in its previous two season openers combined, enjoyed its highest scoring output in a first game since a 59-20 win over Western Carolina in 2003.
T.J. Graham posted career highs with six receptions for 96 yards and two touchdowns — all in the first half — for the Wolfpack. Freshman tailbacks Dean Haynes and Mustafa Greene each added a third-quarter rushing touchdown for N.C. State.
Western Carolina dropped to 0-26 all-time against current members of the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Catamounts went 87 yards on 10 plays to score a touchdown on the game's first possession, but amassed just 102 yards on 39 plays the rest of the game.
A mistake by Western Carolina on special teams ignited N.C. State's attack. After their opening score, the Catamounts forced N.C. State to punt after three plays.
But Deja Alexander muffed the catch on the short kick, and Taylor Gentry recovered for N.C. State on the Western Carolina 26 yard line. Wilson found Graham streaking down the seam uncovered on the next play for a touchdown, the first of four scoring strikes in as many possessions for Wilson.
Graham, who had one touchdown catch in his first two seasons, put the Wolfpack ahead 14-7 with his second scoring grab of the opening quarter. He pulled in a quick slant from Wilson on third and 5, weaving his way right to left through the defense on his way to a 25-yard touchdown.
N.C. State's defense kept the Catamounts from climbing back into the game. The Wolfpack, who surrendered at least 30 points in a school-record eight consecutive games last season, never allowed Western Carolina to enter the red zone.
The Wolfpack won without three members of their two-deep depth chart. Starting offensive tackle Jake Vermiglio and backup defensive tackles Marcus Kuhn and J.R. Sweezy didn't dress out for the game. All three had faced drug charges, which eventually were dropped, during the offseason.