Some of the NC State players downplayed getting revenge with a 39-25 win over Louisville on Thursday, but not all.
NC State had lost the last three meeting against Louisville, coinciding with the Cardinals joining the ACC. Then add in what happened last year, trailing 44-0 at halftime en route to a 54-13 road loss, and it’s easy to see how the Wolfpack players could have been a little salty in delivering payback.
NC State had just lost in heartbreaking fashion in overtime at Clemson, and didn’t have much motivational juice left in the tank the next week. The next opponent just happened to be Louisville, and the Cardinals were relentless from the start.
“We all know what happened there, so it was good revenge,” Hines said.
This year, NCSU had the perfect setting to finally topple star junior quarterback Lamar Jackson and Louisville. The victory proved to be sweet.
“It was awesome because last year I couldn’t stop thinking about that game until we played them again,” said NC State junior running back Nyheim Hines, who had 102 rushing yards and two touchdowns. “Obviously, when you are playing Lamar Jackson, the Heisman Trophy winner — not many get to see a Heisman Trophy winner play live and front and center.”
NCSU senior defensive end Bradley Chubb gave a mini-speech to some of his teammates before the game.
“I told the team before the game, and the D-Line especially, that I don’t take things lightly,” Chubb said. “When we got beat by 40 last year, that didn’t sit well with me. We went out there to never have that feeling again.”
NC State senior H-Back Jaylen Samuels had seven catches for 104 yards, including a 79-yard reception that set up a score. He wanted to defeat the Cardinals in the worst way.
“Oh yeah, especially coming off the loss like how loss to them last year,” Samuels said. “It was great and the atmosphere was great.
“We come into every game thinking nobody can beat us if we go out there and play Wolfpack football.”
NC State’s “Revenge Tour” already has posted wins at Florida State on Sept. 23, and now Louisville. The next matchup of note is hosting Clemson on Nov. 4. The Wolfpack have at Pittsburgh and at Notre Dame leading up to the Tigers matchup, and understand what is at stake this season.
“It is really about building a legacy and trying to do something where we will be remembered by when we leave,” Hines said. “We’ve done a great job of that, but we have to keep it going because we are not done yet.”
NCSU Makes Life Difficult For Quarterback Lamar Jackson
Jackson was able to accumulate 427 yards of total offense — 354 passing and 73 rushing — and he accounted for three collective touchdowns.
Despite the gaudy statistical numbers on paper, Jackson found it difficult to establish a rhythm. Part of that was NC State completely shutting down the non-Jackson part of the running game. Junior running back Malik Williams mustered just six carries for 30 yards.
Chubb helped set the tone early for the Wolfpack defense. He achieved his lone sack of the game on the second play of the contest and went on to finish with six tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and a key blocked extra point.
“As the leader of this defense, my team looked to me to make a play and I tried to do that,” Chubb said.
Jackson was under a steady flow of duress and was sacked four times and hurried another five times. Louisville finished with 116 hard-earned rushing yards. There was a feeling that Jackson would have to be Superman to propel teammates to play beyond their means.
“That guy is electric and he’s fast and he can do a lot of things with his feet and his arm,” Chubb said.
NC State Receivers Spread The Wealth
NC State almost had the rare scenario of having three different players reach 100 receiving yards.
NCSU redshirt junior quarterback Ryan Finley rarely locks on to a particular receiver on a drive. His spread the wealth abilities led to sophomore receiver Kelvin Harmon posting six catches for 133 yards and a 48-yard touchdown. Samuels had the aforementioned 104 receiving yards and redshirt junior wide receiver Stephen Louis added three receptions for 99 yards.
Louis said he tries to always one-up Harmon, but he knows this was Harmon's game. Doeren also agreed with that assessment.
"The thing that makes Kelvin hard to defend in my opinion is how well he tracks the football," Doeren said. "He can find it. He has incredible grip strength."
Finley finished with 367 passing yards and a touchdown, and he more than held his own in keeping up with Jackson.
“We got a lot of playmakers on the film, and Finley is a smart quarterback,” Samuels said. “He went through his reads and got the playmakers the ball.”
Finley seemed to be locked into getting Harmon in position to catch back-shoulder passes.
“We were just on and credit to the O-Line,” said Harmon, who will take a mini-trip to see family in New Jersey this weekend.. “They gave him [Finley] a lot of time to sit back there.”
Finley also continued his streak of not throwing an interception in 288 passing attempts dating back to las year.
“Finley played a tremendous game,” Doeren said. “He gave a lot of guys opportunities.”
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