Nov 19, 2022; Louisville, Kentucky, USA;  Louisville Cardinals linebacker Yasir Abdullah (22) sacks North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Ben Finley (10) during the second quarter at Cardinal Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Jawhar Jordan helps Louisville down No. 24 North Carolina State

Jawhar Jordan scored on a kickoff return and a short run from scrimmage as host Louisville overcame offensive shortcomings to defeat No. 24 North Carolina State 25-10 in Atlantic Coast Conference play on Saturday.

Both teams had changes at quarterback because of injuries and the Cardinals adjusted better to win for the fifth time in their last six games.

Jordan rushed for 105 yards on 16 carries

Brock Domann, making his second career start for Louisville, completed 12 of 25 passes for 153 yards.

James Turner kicked four field goals for the Cardinals (7-4, 4-4 ACC)

NC State (7-4, 3-4) has lost consecutive games for the first time since 2020.

Quarterback Malik Cunningham of Louisville missed the game because of a shoulder injury sustained a week earlier at Clemson.

Ben Finley, younger brother of former NC State quarterback Ryan Finley, got most of the work in a reserve role for the Wolfpack. He completed 16 of 35 throws for 201 yards and a touchdown and one interception.

NC State went back to Jack Chambers as its starting quarterback after MJ Morris, who was the team’s third starter of the season, was still ailing from a week earlier. Then Finley came in later in the first half. So it has been a scramble at the quarterback position since ACC Preseason Player of the Year Devin Leary went down with a season-ending injury in early October.

NC State opened the second-half scoring on Finley’s 34-yard pass play to Michael Allen. The Wolfpack covered 87 in five plays to pull within 13-10.

Louisville began the scoring on Turner’s 26-yard field goal. Christopher Dunn matched it for NC State with a 30-yarder for his 21st consecutive made on what has been a perfect season.

But it wasn’t tied for long because Jordan returned the ensuing kickoff 98 yards for a touchdown. The wind knocked down the kick and Jordan picked up the ball after it rolled past him.

Turner’s 22-yarder on the last play of the first half made it 13-3.

–Field Level Media

Nov 5, 2022; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback MJ Morris (16) throws a pass during the first half against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

MJ Morris leads No. 22 North Carolina State to win over No. 21 Wake Forest

MJ Morris, who was the third-string quarterback a few weeks ago, threw three touchdown passes as No. 22 North Carolina State defeated No. 21 Wake Forest 30-21 for a victory Saturday night in Raleigh, N.C.

Darryl Jones caught two of the touchdown passes and Keyon Lesane had the other scoring catch.

ACC Preseason Player of the Year Devin Leary suffered a season-ending injury last month against Florida State. Jack Chambers became the starter for two games before Morris rescued the Wolfpack (7-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) in an Oct. 27 comeback against Virginia Tech.

NC State’s Christopher Dunn kicked field goals of 33, 51 and 25 yards. He had the game’s first and final points.

Wake Forest quarterback Sam Hartman threw two touchdown passes and was intercepted three times. But his 29-yard, fourth-down hook-up with A.T. Perry allowed the Demon Deacons to close within 27-21 with 6:54 remaining by completing a 99-yard drive.

By the time the Demon Deacons (6-3, 2-3) got the ball back, Dunn had booted his third field goal and just 2:54 was left on the clock.

Morris was 18-for-28 for 210 yards.

Hartman finished 29-for-47 for 397 yards. The Demon Deacons, who lost their second game in a row, were held to 17 rushing yards.

Jakeem Harris intercepted Hartman in the first quarter and Cyrus Fagan and Aydan White had pickoffs in the second half.

Wake Forest moved inside the NC State 5-yard line twice, but managed just seven points. Christian Turner scored from 2 yards out on the possession following Matthew Dennis’ missed 35-yard field goal.

Morris made two touchdown throws in the last eight minutes of the first half.

He threw 12 yards to Lesane, who held onto the ball despite a brutal hit at the goal line, for the Wolfpack’s first touchdown.

Hartman hooked up with Taylor Morin for a 24-yard touchdown play 3 1/2 minutes later. Then it was Morris’ turn again, with a 13-yard pass to Jones with 1:30 to play in the first half.

–Field Level Media

Oct 17, 2019; Stanford, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson (1) and wide receiver Kyle Philips (2) celebrate after a touchdown in the first half against the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA, NC State take revivals into Holiday Bowl clash

North Carolina State has come a long way the past couple of seasons, and now the program is on the verge of just its second season with a double-digit win total.

So traveling across the country to face UCLA in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 at San Diego seems like another challenge worth accepting.

“We want to make history, leave a legacy,” NC State linebacker Drake Thomas said. “This team is special and it would be a special way to end the season.”

NC State (9-3) won its last two regular-season games, including a remarkable comeback in the final two minutes to knock off rival North Carolina on Nov. 26. Most of the Wolfpack’s key players have announced that they’ll be on board next season, already boosting expectations for 2022.

“I think it says a lot,” NC State quarterback Devin Leary said. “It goes to prove that guys on this team aren’t satisfied with what we’ve accomplished this year. Guys want to come back and prove how much better we can be.”

UCLA (8-4) has been on an upward trend as well, and the bus ride down California’s Interstate 5 is another chance for the Bruins to show what their program is headed in the right direction.

Bruins coach Chip Kelly said the regular season was good enough “to get us in this situation to get to play football in December.” The winning record came after five consecutive losing seasons, the last three under Kelly.

Kelly has been on the sideline for the Holiday Bowl in the past as an assistant coach at Oregon. He’s hoping for a home-field type of atmosphere for the Bruins.

“We’re excited that a lot of our fans can get there,” Kelly said of the game, which will be played in San Diego’s Petco Park, a baseball stadium.

UCLA has many San Diego-area players, including leader receiver Kyle Phillips. He caught 10 touchdown passes this season and had 739 yards on 59 catches.

“He has given us everything,” Kelly said. “He is a really tough matchup and he comes up big in big games.”

UCLA quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson has thrown for 21 touchdowns with six interceptions. Although he is eligible to return next season, rumors have swirled that it could be Thompson-Robinson’s last game in a Bruins uniform after four seasons, with transfer QB Dillon Gabriel of UCF waiting in the wings.

“He’s one of the toughest guys I’ve been around,” Kelly said of Thompson-Robinson. “I think he has played his best football in the last three games. We hope he can continue to grow in this last one.”

NC State’s defense is ready for the challenge from a dual-threat quarterback.

“Defensively, we’ll be healthier than we were in the last game,” coach Dave Doeren said. “(Safety) Devan Boykin is back with us now. We hoped that we would have him.”

Leary threw for 3,433 yards with 35 touchdowns and five interceptions for the Wolfpack during the regular season. Emeka Emezie has been his top target, making 60 catches for 802 yards and six touchdowns.

NC State’s only season with double-digit victories came in 2002, going 11-3 behind QB Philip Rivers. In a San Diego connection, Rivers went out to a stellar career with the Chargers and was with the team when it moved to Los Angeles in 2017.

“We want to go win,” Wolfpack center Grant Gibson said. “We’re not taking this game lightly.”

Highly-regarded UCLA defensive lineman Otito Ogbonnia is skipping the game in advance of the NFL Draft.

The only previous NC State-UCLA football meetings came with UCLA winning home games in 1959 and 1960.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2021; Raleigh, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack fans storm the field after a win against the Clemson Tigers at Carter-Finley Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

NC State upsets No. 9 Clemson in double OT

Devin Leary passed for 238 yards and four touchdowns, including one in each overtime, as North Carolina State defeated No. 9 Clemson 27-21 Saturday night at Raleigh, N.C.

It was the Wolfpack’s first victory against Clemson since 2011, snapping an eight-game losing streak in the series that had seen Clemson win 15 of the previous 16 meetings.

After Clemson (2-2, 1-1 ACC) scored first in overtime on a 9-yard pass from quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei to Justyn Ross, Leary tied it up with a 2-yard touchdown toss to Thayer Thomas, then won it by connecting with a diving Devin Taylor for a 22-yard touchdown in the right corner of the end zone.

NC State’s defense then held the Tigers on four consecutive downs to clinch the victory.

The Wolfpack held the Tigers to 214 total yards while NC State’s offense racked up 386 against a Clemson defense that had held each of its first three opponents this season without an offensive touchdown.

NC State (3-1, 1-0) handed Clemson its second defeat in four games — the Tigers lost to Georgia 10-3 in their season opener and have lost two regular-season games for the first time since 2014.

The defeat not only was a big blow to Clemson’s hopes for making the College Football Playoff for a seventh consecutive year, but also for its chances of winning a seventh straight ACC Championship.

Clemson drove 80 yards in five plays on its second possession of the game for a 7-0 lead. Uiagalelei threw a strike to Ross in the back of the end zone for a 32-yard touchdown.

But NC State’s defense answered in a big way, holding the Tigers to 35 total yards over their next eight possessions.

The Wolfpack tied the game at 7-7 with five seconds left in the first quarter on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Leary to Emeka Emezie, who had a career-high 14 receptions for 114 yards.

NC State pulled ahead 14-7 with 5:10 left in the third quarter with Leary connecting with Carter for a 12-yard touchdown.

Clemson’s offense, which has struggled this season following the departures of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and running back Travis Etienne to the NFL, then awakened.

Uiagalelei rumbled for a 37-yard gain to set up Will Shipley with a 5-yard touchdown run as the Tigers tied the game at 14 with 10:52 remaining.

Uiagalelei completed 12 of 26 passes for 111 yards, including eight to Ross for 77 yards.

NC State’s Ricky Person rushed for 91 yards on 21 carries while Zonovan “Bam” Knight added 79 yards on 23 attempts.

Both teams were heavily penalized; Clemson 13 times for 94 yards and State 11 for 105.

–Field Level Media
–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  North Carolina State Wolfpack running back Zonovan Knight (7) runs the ball against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the fourth quarter at Heinz Field. The Wolfpack won 30-29. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Cade Fortin, South Florida open campaign at NC State

The last time Cade Fortin started a game was in 2018 against the North Carolina State Wolfpack. Fortin was playing for the North Carolina Tar Heels at the time, and he lost 34-28 in overtime.

On Thursday night, Fortin will once again face the Wolfpack, but this time it will be as the starting quarterback for the visiting South Florida Bulls in the 2021 opener for both squads in Raleigh, N.C.

“I try not to think of the pressure of being a starter,” Fortin said. “Preparation weeds out nervousness. Getting in the film room, learning our opponent, breeds confidence.”

Fortin has probably learned — or already knew — that the Wolfpack finished 8-4 last season, including 7-3 in the ACC.

The Wolfpack, who lost to Kentucky 23-21 in last year’s Gator Bowl, are 18-point favorites over the Bulls, who went 1-8 last season.

N.C. State is led by fourth-year sophomore quarterback Devin Leary, who started just three games last year due to a broken left foot suffered on Oct. 17 against Duke.

Leary, who also missed 20 days of 2020 fall camp due to COVID-19, had won three straight games prior to the injury. In his four games last season, he passed for 890 yards, eight TDs and just two interceptions.

“(It’s been) the toughest mental challenge of my life,” Leary said of his injury rehab. “It’s something I’ve learned to conquer.”

USF’s only 2020 win was over an FCS team, beating The Citadel, 27-6. After that, the Bulls finished the season on an eight-game losing streak, although two of those losses were by fewer than three points.

This will be Fortin’s fourth college season and just his third start. He has thrown a total of just eight passes the past two years.

The only time Fortin has ever had extended action was in that game against N.C. State in 2018, when he completed 19 of 40 passes for 276 yards with one touchdown, one sack and one interception.

The USF offensive line allowed 30 sacks last season, and that should provide opportunities for a Wolfpack defense led by All-ACC linebacker Payton Wilson.

Another Wolfpack linebacker to watch is Isaiah Moore, who finished 10th in the ACC last season with 7.8 tackles per game. Wilson led the conference with 10.8 tackles per game.

Offensively, Leary’s weapons include running back Zonovan Knight and wide receiver Emeka Emezie.

Knight, a first-team All-ACC selection in the preseason, has some impressive career numbers: 5.5 yards per rush, 2,043 all-purpose yards, 1,533 rushing yards and 26.6 yards on kickoff returns.

Emezie, one of the nation’s most physical receivers at 6-3 and 220 pounds, ranks fifth in Wolfpack history with169 catches. He has had at least one reception in 32 straight games.

–Field Level Media

Oct 10, 2020; Charlottesville, Virginia, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack head coach Dave Doeren looks at the scoreboard from the sidelines against the Virginia Cavaliers in the third quarter at Scott Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

NC State aims to break spell against Georgia Tech

North Carolina State will try to reverse a losing trend and earn a little revenge Saturday when it hosts Georgia Tech in Raleigh.

The Wolfpack (7-3, 6-3 ACC) have not beaten Georgia Tech (3-5, 3-4) at home since 2000 and would like to end that streak this weekend, when they play their final regular-season game.

NC State is still smarting from last year’s 28-26 defeat to the Yellow Jackets in Atlanta. Coach Dave Doeren’s injury-depleted team fell behind 21-3 and saw their comeback fall short when a final two-point conversion failed.

Georgia Tech leads the series 20-10 and has a 9-6 advantage in games played in Raleigh.

“It’s been a fun year,” Doeren said. “It’s a special group. If we get this next one and it puts us at eight (wins), it would make it even better.”

NC State has significantly improved its offense this year. Last season, the Wolfpack averaged 22.1 points per game. This season that figure is 31.9. The Wolfpack are coming off a 36-29 win over Syracuse, scoring the final 16 points to secure the victory.

Quarterback Bailey Hockman has thrown for 1,511 yards and 12 touchdowns in eight games. He passed for a career-high 313 yards and four touchdowns against Syracuse.

Zonovan “Bam” Knight and Ricky Person have been a steady, dependable combination in the backfield. They combine for an average of 127.4 yards per game, and Knight (698 yards) has eight touchdowns.

NC State’s Christopher Dunn needs two field goals to tie the school’s career record. He has 53, including a 31-yarder that sealed the win against Syracuse.

The Wolfpack got a boost on defense last week when safety Tanner Ingle returned after missing most of the season with a hamstring injury. He had seven tackles against Syracuse.

Georgia Tech ended a three-game losing streak – and a month-long layoff – with a 56-33 win over Duke. The Yellow Jackets had three players from that game honored by the ACC – offensive tackle Zach Quinney (co-Offensive Lineman of the Week), quarterback Jeff Sims (Rookie of the Week) and defensive end Jordan Domineck (Defensive Lineman of the Week).

It was the third time Sims has received such an honor. He set career highs for rushing yard (108) and touchdown passes (three) and became the first freshman in the country to run for at least 100 yards and pass for at least three TDs in a game this season. Sims has thrown for 1,492 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 385 yards and four TDs this year.

Domineck had a crucial strip sack and fumble recovery for a touchdown that changed the momentum of the game against Duke. He finished with two sacks and 2½ tackles for loss. He leads the team with four sacks and 7½ tackles for loss.

“We’re a culture built on effort,” Georgia Tech coach Geoff Collins said. “He plays with ridiculous effort. When you do that, good things happen, and that’s what he did. He did a great job giving great effort when we weren’t playing (for a month), and it showed.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 24, 2020; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA; North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Bailey Hockman (16) passes the ball in the third quarter at Kenan Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports

Wolfpack routs Florida State behind Hockman’s 4 TDs

North Carolina State quarterback Bailey Hockman threw for three touchdowns and ran for another against his former team as the Wolfpack trounced visiting Florida State 38-22 on Saturday night at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, N.C.

Hockman finished 24-for-34 for 265 yards and an interception. He began his college career in the Florida State program as a redshirt player in 2017 before departing.

Receiver Thayer Thomas, a redshirt senior, caught 11 passes for a career-high 135 yards and two touchdowns for the Wolfpack (5-3, 5-3 Atlantic Coast Conference).

The Seminoles were without starting quarterback Jordan Travis, who didn’t make the trip after sitting out the second half a week earlier against Pittsburgh with an undisclosed ailment. That left true freshman Chubba Purdy as the team’s fourth player to start at quarterback this season.

Purdy was 15-for-23 for 181 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdowns.

Florida State (2-6, 1-6) has dropped three games in a row since stunning then-No. 5 North Carolina.

NC State was up 21-3 at halftime, with Hockman throwing touchdown passes of 21 yards to Emeka Emezie and 10 yards to Thomas before running 4 yards for a touchdown with 1:32 left in the half. It was Hockman’s third rushing touchdown of the season.

The Wolfpack opened the game with a 12-play scoring drive. Its second touchdown came after a failed Florida State fourth-down play, so it needed to go only 31 yards for the score. NC State held a 240-98 advantage in first-half total offense.

Zonovan Knight’s 18-yard touchdown run opened the second-half scoring. He ended up with 94 rushing yards on 17 carries.

Thomas’ second touchdown came on a 24-yard play in the third quarter.

Florida State cut the deficit to 28-9 on Jashaun Corbin’s 28-yard fourth-down run in the third quarter. Purdy’s 69-yard hookup with Ontaria Wilson and 24-yard connection with Warren Thompson gave the Seminoles a pair of fourth-quarter scores.

NC State snapped a two-game skid after losses to nationally ranked opponents North Carolina and Miami.

–Field Level Media

Oct 3, 2020; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA;  North Carolina State Wolfpack quarterback Devin Leary (13) passes against the Pittsburgh Panthers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

NC State rallies to slay No. 24 Pittsburgh

Devin Leary’s fourth touchdown pass went to Emeka Emezie for 13 yards with 23 seconds remaining as visiting North Carolina State stunned No. 24 Pittsburgh 30-29 on Saturday afternoon at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.

After quarterback Kenny Pickett scored his second touchdown run of the day on a 1-yard run with 1:44 remaining for Pittsburgh, the Wolfpack drove 79 yards without a timeout. A fourth-and-nine pass play from Leary to Thayer Thomas kept the possession alive.

Pickett completed 22 of 39 passes for 411 yards and one touchdown in the Atlantic Coast Conference game. His two-point conversion pass was incomplete following the team’s final touchdown.

DJ Turner had eight receptions for 186 yards for the Panthers (3-1, 2-1 ACC), who were aiming for their first 4-0 start to a season in 20 years.

Leary, making his first start of the season, threw a 25-yard touchdown pass to Cary Angeline with 8:16 remaining as the Wolfpack (2-1, 2-1) took the lead. Leary ended up 28-for-44 for 336 yards.

The Panthers moved 80 yards to the NC State 1 and were denied on four straight plays in the third quarter. The next time the marched into Wolfpack territory, they converted on Pickett’s 1-yard go-ahead run with 1:11 to play in the third quarter.

Alex Kessman’s 42-yard field goal pushed Pittsburgh’s lead to 23-17 with 10:52 remaining.

NC State dominated most of the first half, but led only 17-13 at the break after a pair of Kessman field goals in the final five minutes of the second quarter. At one point, the Wolfpack held a 16-2 advantage in first downs.

Pittsburgh scored on the game’s second snap when Pickett connected with freshman Jordan Addison for a 75-yard play. Addison was undefended on a busted coverage. Addison left later in the first half with an injury after making only two catches.

NC State posted the next 17 points. Leary hooked up with Angeline for a 6-yard touchdown to complete a 17-play drive. Christopher Dunn’s 39-yard field goal and Leary’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Emezie (seven catches, 101 yards) helped stretch the advantage to 17-7.

By halftime, Pittsburgh had been penalized 10 times for 90 yards. But NC State committed a big infraction as Jakeen Harris had an 86-yard interception return for a touchdown nullified by Josh Pierre-Louis’ targeting penalty for a hit on Pickett — also resulting in Pierre-Louis’ ejection.

–Field Level Media