RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Garrett Bradbury had been waiting for his chance.
North Carolina State's all-Atlantic Coast Conference center lined up in the backfield, took the handoff and bulled his way for a short touchdown in Saturday's 58-3 win against East Carolina. But instead of keeping the ball, he gave it to linemate Terrone Prescod, who promptly punted it into the stands in a flag-drawing celebration.
"I think anytime a fat guy scores, everyone's going to rally around that," said the 6-foot-3, 300-pound Bradbury.
The Wolfpack's romp featured plenty of those moments, too. There was senior running back Reggie Gallaspy Jr., junior receiver Jakobi Meyers and freshman kicker Christopher Dunn setting single-season program records. There was hard-hitting linebacker Germaine Pratt lining up to field a punt (he fair-caught it).
"We're scoring touchdowns, breaking records with a ton of players, and it was a blast," Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. "It was an absolute blast."
Gallaspy ran for 220 yards and two scores to reach a program-record 19 total TDs this year for N.C. State (9-3), which scored on four straight possessions to lead 24-0 by early in the second quarter in what became seemingly a never-ending run of celebration en route to 655 total yards.
Things were far more grim for the Pirates (3-9), who had just 55 yards before Anthony Scott's 53-yard run in the final 2 minutes. East Carolina finished with 104 yards and avoided its first shutout since October 1997 by calling timeout with 3 seconds left to get Jake Verity's 46-yard field goal to end the game.
Doeren called a timeout, too, to ice Verity and preserve the shutout.
"They're a good group of young men," interim ECU coach David Blackwell said. "They fight their tails off. We just ran out of weapons today."
ECU: The Pirates took the field roughly 48 hours after the firing of coach Scottie Montgomery. Blackwell, the team's defensive coordinator, had an already-difficult task was made tougher by the fact starting quarterback Holton Ahlers was out due to injury. The Pirates also lost No. 2 quarterback Reid Herring (Saturday's starter) when he was hurt on a third-quarter sack. All in all, it was a debacle of an afternoon to finish a rough season.
Blackwell said the ECU coaches must "shift modes" and focus on recruiting, adding: "We've got to kind of hold it together until (school leaders) do what they're going to do."
N.C. State: No drama, just an easy stat-padding (and record-setting) win against an overmatched opponent. The list included Gallapsy's TD mark, Meyers setting a new season receptions record and Dunn setting a season record for made field goals. Now N.C. State has nine wins for the second straight season.
The game was scheduled to replace cancelled September dates for both teams due to Hurricane Florence. N.C. State was scheduled to host a ranked West Virginia team on Sept. 15, while East Carolina was scheduled to visit Virginia Tech.
Doeren said he wanted to get Bradbury the carry in last week's overtime win at rival North Carolina, but Gallaspy was the hot hand with five rushing scores. This time, Doeren said, Bradbury was practically calling the play after the Wolfpack returned a fumble to the ECU 1-yard line with a 44-0 lead in the fourth quarter.
Doeren told Bradbury beforehand that he should keep the ball, but Bradbury said he relented to begging from the 6-5, 334-pound Prescod to let him punt it and "show some versatility as a player."
"Everyone was just like keep it and run to the sideline and put it up in a case," Bradbury said. "But if I did that, then I feel like I'd just look at it every day and wonder: what if T could've punted it?"
ECU: The Pirates' offseason to-do list includes finding a new coach as well as getting around to hiring a new athletic director after leaving that position vacant since the spring. And oh yes, they open next season right back here on the same field in Raleigh.
N.C. State: A bowl game awaits.
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