No. 24 N.C. State upends No. 12 Louisville
RALEIGH, N.C. — North Carolina State players are starting to feel as if they are part of an elite team.
The results are backing it up.
Nyheim Hines ran for two touchdowns as No. 24 N.C. State clung to a lead for most of the final three quarters en route to a 39-25 victory over No. 17 Louisville in an Atlantic Coast Conference game Thursday night.
“You can just feel it right now in our locker room,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said. “They believe they’re the best team. ... When you can play like that in an environment like that, it was electric.”
The outcome at Carter-Finley Stadium gave the Wolfpack a second victory against a nationally ranked opponent in less than two weeks and reversed a 41-point loss to the Cardinals from a season ago.
Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson tried to rally Louisville, which closed within 32-25 when he ran into the end zone from 3 yards with 4:10 remaining. The extra-point kick was blocked by Bradley Chubb.
The Cardinals (4-2, 1-2 ACC) regained possession with 3:09 left, needing to go 89 yards. However, on the second play, Germaine Pratt returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown.
“I just seized the moment,” Pratt said. “That’s our motto, we’ve got to finish.”
It was a matter of the Wolfpack refusing to flinch on the way to a fifth victory in a row.
“They don’t want to be denied what they feel is theirs right now,” Doeren said. “They’ve invested so much right now, they can’t give in.”
Jackson completed 26 of 47 passes for 354 yards with a touchdown and the one interception. He rushed for 73 yards and two scores on 19 carries.
N.C. State quarterback Ryan Finley threw for 367 yards and a touchdown, completing 20 of 31 passes. The Wolfpack racked up 520 yards of total offense.
“We didn’t do a good job of defending the pass game,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “We didn’t get pressure on the quarterback. We panicked and didn’t play the ball at times.”
Reggie Gallaspy’s 3-yard touchdown run with 10:07 left followed by Hines’ two-point conversion reception helped the Wolfpack to a 32-19 lead.
“If we get in position to win, we’ve got to make the plays and go do it,” Petrino said. “I’ve got to do a better job with our coaches. Do a better job with our players and get back on the right track.”
Hines rushed for 102 yards on 18 carries. Sophomore Kelvin Harmon racked up a career-high 133 receiving yards on six catches for N.C. State (5-1, 3-0), which defeated then-No. 12 Florida State last month.
With a chance to rebuild a 10-point lead on the opening possession of the second half, N.C. State kicker Carson Wise missed on a 35-yard field-goal attempt.
At the other end, sophomore Blanton Creque booted a career-long 48-yarder for Louisville, trimming its deficit to 17-13.
The Wolfpack made the most of its next possession, driving 78 yards in nine plays and scoring on Hines’ 7-yard run.
Jackson orchestrated a drive that resulted in his 4-yard scoring run with 12:39 to play. The Cardinals failed on a two-point conversion pass, leaving the score 24-19.
N.C. State scored 10 points in a 3 1/2-minute span of the second quarter to break a tie and forge a 17-10 halftime lead.
After a scoreless first quarter, the teams started converting in the second.
Finley connected with Harmon on a 48-yard touchdown pass on the first play after Finley’s sneak to convert on fourth-and-1. At the time, it became the second-longest pass play of the season for the Wolfpack.
It’s the third time this season that Louisville’s opponent scored first.
The Cardinals responded with a 75-yard drive, with Jackson throwing a 23-yard strike to Seth Dawkins, who made a bobbling catch as he crossed into the end zone for a touchdown.
N.C. State was back in business after Jaylen Samuels’ 79-yard catch-and-run. But the Wolfpack settled for Wise’s 21-yard field goal with 5:03 left in the half.
After a punt, the Wolfpack traveled 77 yards on seven plays, with Hines running 11 yards for a touchdown.
Louisville countered with Creque’s 28-yard field goal on the last play of the half.
N.C. State reached the Louisville 10-yard line on its first possession, but two plays that went nowhere and a third-down fumble thwarted that threat. That was the Wolfpack’s first turnover since the opener.
NOTES: The game marked the first time two ranked teams played at Carter-Finley Stadium since 2000, when Florida State defeated N.C. State. ... Until this week, N.C. State hadn’t been ranked since the final poll of the 2010 season. ... The Wolfpack entered the game with a 2-0 ACC record for the first time since 2006. ... In the first seven meetings in the series, Louisville won all of them except for the 2011 Belk Bowl ... Louisville defeated the Wolfpack last year 54-13. ... Louisville coach Bobby Petrino’s career record against North Carolina-based teams fell to 14-1. ... Louisville is home on Oct. 14 against Boston College. N.C. State plays the same day at Pittsburgh.