Louisville survives North Carolina State 30-18
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) Michael Dyer rushed for 173 yards, including a game-sealing 46-yard touchdown run with 44 seconds remaining, and Louisville held off North Carolina State 30-18 on Saturday.
The Wolfpack (4-4, 0-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) drew within 23-18 on Jacoby Brissett’s 21-yard touchdown pass to David J. Grinnage with 2:21 remaining, but the 2-point conversion pass failed as Cardinals safety Terell Floyd knocked the ball from Na’Quan Brown’s hands. The play was upheld upon review.
Louisville (6-2, 4-2) recovered the onside kick and Dyer burst through the left side for the clinching TD, capping his biggest day with the Cardinals since transferring last year from Arkansas Baptist College. The former Auburn star and 2011 BCS championship game offensive MVP finished with Louisville career bests in yardage and carries (24).
Louisville senior wide receiver DeVante Parker added nine receptions for 132 yards receiving in his return from a left toe injury in August.
Will Gardner threw two TD passes in his first start since Sept. 27 at Florida International and John Wallace kicked field goals of 40, 38 and 45 yards in a hard-earned victory for Louisville, which outgained N.C. State 369-351.
Dyer’s breakout game in his first start this season and Parker’s long-awaited debut helped set the tone for the Cardinals before 50,227 on homecoming.
Dyer’s 3-yard gain on the first play created an immediate buzz that Parker followed with a 37-yard reception to set up Gardner’s 13-yard touchdown pass to Eli Rogers six plays later.
Louisville continued going to both seniors, quieting concerns about their health after they missed much of the early season.
But both teams ended up losing players during the contest. Louisville receiver James Quick did not return after hurting an ankle and senior linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin limped to the locker room with what coach Bobby Petrino said was a hamstring injury.
N.C. State’s Brown was carted off the field late in the game with both legs strapped to a board. He gave a thumbs-up as he was wheeled away.
For Louisville, putting away N.C. State took work and some breaks, the biggest of which was a reversal of Gardner’s late third-quarter fumble that N.C. State linebacker Airius Moore returned 72 yards for a touchdown that would have brought the Wolfpack within 17-15 with 1:21 remaining.
Replays appeared to show that as Gardner tripped and fell backward, his elbow hit the turf before the ball popped loose. Gardner was ruled down upon review and the call was overturned, a huge momentum swing that Louisville converted into John Wallace’s 38-yard field goal and a 20-9 lead.
The Wolfpack’s first-quarter attempt to tie the game at 7-7 failed when Niklas Sade’s conversion kick bounced off the left upright.
A week after a 23-17 loss at Clemson marred by penalties, turnovers and breakdowns, Louisville needed a boost by any means.
That was especially true for the Cardinals’ offense after stumbling in last week’s loss at Clemson. The Cardinals were flagged four times for 33 yards but only once on offense for holding.
Having deep-threat Parker lined up wide again helped Louisville’s focus. Besides giving Gardner a reliable target that the sophomore QB used often, Parker provided the flash that the Cardinals’ receiving corps needed.
Dyer meanwhile chipped in the hard, fast running style that Louisville had been waiting two years for. It helped wear down a Wolfpack defense missing leading tackler Jerod Fernandez and safety Josh Jones. The freshmen were among seven players suspended this week for an off-campus BB gun incident.