No. 24 Wolfpack powers on with another program win
Raleigh, N.C. — Dave Doeren teeters on “I told you so,” at this point. Halfway through his fifth season in Raleigh, he falls just short of saying those exact words.
No. 24 NC State soundly beat No. 17 Louisville 39-25 Thursday night, never trailing and staying undefeated in conference play. The win is the Wolfpack’s second defeat of a (higher) ranked opponent this season – that’s the first time this program did that since 2010 – but it isn’t a victory that surprises the head coach or any of his players. It’s what they expected to happen, they said it before and they said it after.
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“I told our team it was coming, told y’all it was coming – some of you believed me, some of you didn’t,” Doeren said.
He’s earned that line. The proof, finally, is on the field. Game One was a head scratcher – moreso in light of games in Week Four and Week Six – but outlier aside, the Wolfpack is the team it was supposed to be this season.
Bradley Chubb made it clear that the heralded defensive front would dominate the Cardinals’ (4-2, 2-2 ACC) offensive line as it should and show last season’s best college player in the nation no mercy on Lamar Jackson’s second snap Thursday.
The four-yard backup set the tone, and NC State’s offense followed suit on its first opportunity — well, mostly.
Ryan Finley connected four of his first five passes on a nine-play, 54-yard opening drive before fumbling on the Louisville 19-yard line. In the half-field drive, Doeren and offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz showed off a chunk of their long list of playmakers — Nyheim Hines, Jakobi Meyers, Jaylen Samuels, Stephen Louis and Kelvin Harmon shared the production. The Wolfpack put Meyers in at quarterback on second-and-goal from the 10-yard line despite steady production from the Finley-led offense to that point, the first turnover since Week One happened on the next play.
Wolfpack teams of old — of inexperience, of less-than-100-percent buy-in and those perhaps which lost fewer games and learned less than the players on the field Thursday have — would not recover as well as this 2017 team did. The record shows that.
These members of a program had no problem moving past the mistake.
Chubb got to Jackson for the second time of the night on the Cardinals’ second drive, junior Eurndraus Bryant sacked the QB earlier on the same drive. Bobby Petrino chose to punt from the 36-yard line. It took another three-and-out for NC State’s offense to finally get in the endzone, but once the Pack scored, it held the lead.