Key Play Breakdown: Wolf Blitzers Burned

Brett Friedlander

The NC State football team went into halftime ahead of Louisville 10-7, the first time in more than a month that had the lead in a game.

Starting the second half on defense, the Wolfpack had a chance to get off the field and give its offense a chance to add to the advantage and the momentum by forcing the Cardinals into a third-and-nine situation from their own 26.

Instead, quarterback Malik Cunningham took advantage of a State blitz that left linebacker Brock Miller in one-on-one coverage of speedy wide receiver Tutu Atwell for a 74-yard touchdown pass that sparked a game-changing 20-point third quarter outburst.

Here's a look at how the play that spelled the beginning of the end for the Wolfpack unfolded:

Louisville screenshot 1

The play started with State in its familiar three-down alignment, but even before the ball is snapped, safety Jarius Morehead (at the bottom of the A in ACC, on the 29-yard line) has already sold out and begun his run into the Louisville backfield.

Louisville screenshot 2

 Once the ball is snapped, cornerback Malik Dunlap (also at the bottom of the A on the 29-yard line) also commits to rushing the quarterback, allowing Atwell to run right past him. That leaves linebacker Miller (in the middle of the frame at the 33, right in front of the umpire) to slide over and pick up the receiver.

Louisville screenshot 3

Although Miller does what he's supposed to do, he's already in a position of having to play catchup against the speedy Atwell, who already has a head of steam heading down field. Miller's fate is further sealed by the fact that the Cardinals have successfully picked up the blitz, giving Cunningham time to see the developing mismatch.

Louisville screenshot 4

Once Atwell gets a step on Miller and begins to create separation, all that's left is for Cunningham to deliver him the ball on target.

Louisville screenshot 6

Atwell makes the grab at around the 35-yard line while help for Miller finally arrives. But the reinforcements don't provide much help as the Louisville receiver smartly cuts to the outside and nickel Tyler Baker-Williams misses a tackle.

Louisville screenshot 7A

 From that point on, it was off to the races for Atwell -- as teammate Keion Wakefield shows by celebrating the touchdown before his teammate ever gets to the end zone.