By AARON BEARD
AP Sports Writer
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Jakobi Meyers had career highs of 14 catches for 161 yards - including two big third-down grabs on the clinching late drive - to help North Carolina State beat James Madison 24-13 in Saturday's season opener for both teams.
Reggie Gallaspy II added a 6-yard touchdown run with 65 seconds left to seal this one for the Wolfpack. But that came only after Meyers got wide open on the left side for a 39-yard catch on third-and-long earlier in the drive, then followed with a tough 10-yard catch to move the sticks despite getting sandwiched by two defenders.
Ryan Finley threw for 309 yards and two touchdowns for the Wolfpack.
Ben DiNucci started at QB and threw for 197 yards with a score for the tested Dukes, who won the 2016 Championship Subdivision title and reached the title game last year.
James Madison: The Dukes proved why they're the No. 2-ranked team in the Championship Subdivision polls, staying right with the Bowl Subdivision program from the Atlantic Coast Conference. They played without top cornerback Rashad Robinson - who was ruled out for the season earlier Saturday due to injury - and preseason all-conference defensive lineman Darrious Carter due to a suspension and still hung right to end in this one. Ultimately, a fumble deep in Wolfpack territory late in the first half loomed large by the end in Raleigh.
NC State: The entire preseason has been about finding out how well the Wolfpack developed experienced players to replace a crop of NFL draft picks from a nine-win season. Things were bumpy Saturday; an offense led by a NFL QB prospect Finley and several big returning receivers had trouble sustaining drives and managed a meager 83 yards rushing. Meyers played the biggest role in helping the Wolfpack stay a step ahead and avoid a momentum-sapping upset for the program.
James Madison: The Dukes visit Norfolk State next Saturday.
NC State: Georgia State visits the Wolfpack next Saturday.