Leary celebrates his birthday with a record day


RALEIGH, North Carolina – After Devin Leary worked his way through the traditional post-match handshakes with the opposition, punches with teammates and handshakes with Wolfpack fans, he stopped in the end zone in front the NC State group. The Power Sound of the South serenaded Leary with “Happy Birthday,” which brought an appreciative smile to the quarterback’s face. It was the perfect way to leave the playing field on the day he turned 23.

I’ve never really experienced anything like that, so shout out to them for sure,” Leary said. “It really made my day.”

It wasn’t the only new experience for Leary, as he ended the day with numbers that have never been bettered by a Wolfpack player. In the first half, he posted a 2-3 combo – rushing for two touchdowns and passing for three.

Leary’s first rushing touchdown came on a draw by the quarterback. He ran like a bulldozer plowing and dragging defenders with him into the end zone. Leary led an option guard for his second rushing score, tying his career total for game-winning touchdowns on the ground. He then pitched for three scores in the second quarter.

The first time the Wolfpack had the ball in the second half, Leary connected with Christophe Todle for his fourth passing touchdown of the day. Leary’s six total touchdowns tied the school record for touchdown responsibility previously held by Philip Rivers (against Navy in 2002) and Mike Glennon (against Maryland in 2011).

Offensively, it was a showcase of the depth of the Pack’s playmakers. Seven different players have found the end zone: QBs Leary and Jack ChambersRB Jordan Houston and Delbert Mimms, receivers Anthony Smith and Jalen Coit, and Todle. Additionally, 14 different receivers caught a pass from three different Pack QBs, and eight rushers carried the ball at least twice.

“We understand how many people can make plays for us,” Leary said after the 55-3 victory. “We understand how many receivers we have, and even running backs too. We have so many different point guards, and as a quarterback, it’s my job to distribute the ball to them.”

The coaching staff wanted to find ways to get Houston into space. On the second set of the second quarter, Leary threw a soft screen to Houston, who followed his line of blockers for a 23-yard gain. On the next play, Leary faked a pass to the right, looked back left, and found Houston wide open on a wheelie route for the 24-yard touchdown.

The attendance chart in the opening game showed something to the receivers coach Joker Phillips. He wanted to use Julian Gray and Smith more to take advantage of their speed. In the second quarter, Gray was split on the right and Smith on the left. It resulted in an 11-yard reception for Gray. Two plays later, out of the same lineup, Leary found Smith for a 40-yard touchdown.

For the second week in a row, the defense generated turnovers with three against the Bucs. Tyler Baker-Williams released the ball from the quarterback with a sharp sweep on a blitz to open the third quarter.

That’s one of the main things I wanted to work on this offseason: my blitz runs, my blitz speed, and the violence that I blitz in,” Baker-Williams explained.

The series after forcing the fumble, Baker-Williams had his second interception in as many weeks. “You know how we feel about him”, the head coach Dave Doeren said of Baker-Williams. “He’s one of the best DBs in the country. He’s definitely a guy who knocks out people’s slot receivers on a regular basis. It’s good to see him get some production.”

The head coach liked what he saw in his team’s 11th straight win at home. Even better, he likes the 2-0 start for the Wolfpack.

By Jeff Graveley

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