Recap: Louisville football defeats NC State

samdraut

Louisville football wasn’t going to be denied bowl eligibility for a second straight week. The Cardinals scored 20 unanswered points in the third quarter after a mediocre first half performance to defeat NC State 34-20 in Raleigh Nov. 16.

Louisville (6-4) trailed 10-7 at halftime, but scored three touchdowns in the third quarter for their fourth Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) victory of the season.

Micale Cunningham completed 13 of 20 throws for 242 yards and four touchdowns. Javian Hawkins rushed for 67 yards while Tutu Atwell had five receptions for 110 yards and a touchdown for Louisville. 

The Cardinals struggled in the first half, but found a rhythm in the second half. 

In the first quarter, Russ Yeast forced a fumble and G.G. Robinson recovered on the 42-yard line, but Louisville couldn’t come away with points following the turnover. Atwell had a 19-yard reception while a carry by Hawkins brought Louisville inside the 20-yard-line, but the drive stalled.

Cunningham was sacked on third down that led to a 44-yard field goal attempt by Ryan Chalifoux, but the kick was missed wide.

Louisville defense forced another turnover, but the offense capitalized the second time around. C.J. Avery deflected a shuffle pass by Leary, allowing Dorian Etheridge to intercept the throw.

Cunningham went eight yards on an option-keeper on a third-and-4 after the turnover. Cunningham made another play on a third down, finding Dez Fitzpatrick for a 43-yard touchdown reception to give Louisville a 7-0 lead with 11:54 left in the second quarter.

Fitzpatrick several steps ahead of his defender along the sideline on the third-and-9, Cunningham lofted a pass to the junior receiver for a score.

NC State answered as Zonovan Knight had a 23-yard run and Jordan Houston had a 16-yard reception to setup a 28-yard field goal by Christopher Dunn.

Louisville struggled against NC State’s pressure on its next drive as Cunningham took a sack on second down and was flagged for an unsportsmanlike penalty on a third-down run. A 17-yard punt by Mason King returned the ball to NC State on the 26-yard-line.

The Wolfpack took full advantage of the field position. Leary found Emeka Emezie for a 15-yard touchdown reception to give NC State a 10-7 lead with 4:01 left in the second quarter.

After a lackluster first half performance, Louisville’s opening drive of the second half started just as bad. Hawkins was tackled for a loss and then gained three yards, setting up a third-and-9.

Cunningham found Atwell in single coverage down the middle of the field. The sophomore caught the pass and broke loose, running the final 40 yards untouched for a 74-yard touchdown to give Louisville a 14-10 lead.

The Cardinals’ second half surged continued as Yeast forced his second fumble of the game and Tabarius Peterson recovered on the 40-yard-line. Louisville took full advantage of NC State’s third turnover as Cunningham found Marshon Ford down the sideline for a 42-yard reception to give Louisville a 20-10 lead two-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter.

After a Louisville’s defense forced a three-and-out on NC State’s ensuing possession, the Cardinals scored again. Aided by two pass interference penalties, Louisville went on a 13-play, 64-yard drive capped by a one-yard touchdown reception by Ean Pfiefer from Cunningham to give Louisville a 27-10 lead with 4:44 left in the third quarter.

NC State responded with a 76-yard drive that lasted nearly five-and-a-half minutes. Leary found Ricky Person for a 16-yard touchdown to cap the 12-play drive that cut Louisville’s lead to 10 with 14:11 left.

Louisville scored on its fourth straight drive of second half in a wild way. After NC State stopped Louisville inside the 10-yard-line, the Cardinals lined up to attempt a field goal.

The Cardinals faked a field goal as Chalifoux took a direct snap, rolled to his right, drawing several NC State defenders before finding Ford in the endzone for a 7-yard touchdown throw. 

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