Wolfpack’s offense hits thud in 20-13 loss to Cardinals
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Things have changed for North Carolina State now that it reached Atlantic Coast Conference play.
After racking up impressive stats against a soft nonconference schedule, the Wolfpack’s high-scoring offense sputtered — most notably on the ground — in Saturday’s 20-13 loss to Louisville.
“It is a setback,” Wolfpack coach Dave Doeren said, “but it’s not anything that we’re going to panic about, that’s for sure.”
N.C. State came in ranked ninth nationally at 46.3 points per game and 16th with 259 yards rushing per game. But the Wolfpack managed 228 total yards, including 45 on the ground in a game played in sporadically heavy rain.
N.C. State posted plenty of impressive stats against four overmatched opponents — two picked sixth or lower in the Sun Belt, another picked next to last in its Conference USA division and a Championship Subdivision opponent — in a schedule that didn’t reveal much about whether the team can meet its goal of contending in the league’s Atlantic Division.
For Louisville, it was the chance to build some momentum of its own and avoid an 0-2 ACC start.
Lamar Jackson ran for 121 yards, including a 68-yard scoring sprint in the opening quarter, to lead a strong ground attack for the Cardinals (2-3, 1-1). He also threw for a 20-yard touchdown to Devante Peete in the second, giving the Cards a 14-0 lead on a day when they remained in firm control from the start.
The freshman quarterback completed just 10 of 27 passes, but the Cardinals ran for 203 yards against a defense that came in ranked third nationally by allowing just 205.8 yards.
Louisville started 0-3 before last week’s romp against Samford, with Jackson setting a school record for rushing yards (184) by a quarterback. Now the Cardinals have won two straight.
Jacoby Brissett threw for a touchdown and Matt Dayes ran for one to lead the Wolfpack (4-1, 0-1), who spent the entire game fighting uphill.
The Wolfpack had a bumpy week, with Doeren dismissing last year’s leading rusher Shadrach Thornton from the team following another round of legal trouble with a midweek arrest.
Things didn’t get better Saturday. N.C. State struggled to match Louisville up front and committed two big turnovers.
The biggest came in the opening quarter when Jumichael Ramos made a 48-yard catch and dragged a defender inside the 10 only to lose a fumble as he fell to the ground. Dayes also lost a fumble near midfield that the Cardinals converted into a field goal in the third.
The Wolfpack had committed one turnover through the first four games.