Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson and No. 7 Louisville raced to a 44-point lead at the half and breezed to a 54-13 win over North Carolina State on Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.Coach Bobby Petrino said Louisville felt it needed to prove a point.”I think we got a little tired of hearing all week how physical a team they were and how hard they hit,” Petrino said. “I think our guys took it personally. We felt like we were the more physical team out there today. We executed well.””Anytime a team says they are going to come in and out-physical you, you take that to heart as a man,” Louisville senior linebacker Keith Kelsey said. “We feel like we are a physical team as well so we had to go out there and display that today.”The Cardinals pushed N.C. State around from the opening kickoff. Louisville scored a touchdown in the first four plays, intercepted a pass on the Wolfpack’s first play and the rest of the first half was more of the same.”We weren’t ready to play today and that’s on me,” N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “It was not our best against their best. When you turn the ball over, you’re going to look bad. When you give up long plays, you are not going to look good.”Jackson, who was replaced early in the fourth quarter, netted 355 yards and three touchdowns passing to go with 76 yards and one score on the ground. He and the Cardinals coasted throughout the second half after building such a commanding early lead.”We knew they were going to bring the safeties up to try to out-number us in the run so we wanted to start the game throwing the football,” Petrino said. “Our guys ran really good routes, we had good protection and Lamar was very accurate in his throws.”Everything went right for Louisville during a dominant first-half performance that ended with the Cardinals amassing 390 yards of total offense and holding the Wolfpack to a paltry 54.”In the first half I thought our defense played really, really well,” Petrino said. “They completely stopped the run and got turnovers that led to points.”The Cardinals started the game with an easy four-play touchdown drive, capped by a 36-yard run from Jackson. After N.C. State’s Ryan Finley threw an interception to Louisville’s Trumaine Washington on the Wolfpack’s first play from scrimmage, the Cardinals pushed the lead to 10-0 five plays later on a 37-yard field goal by Blanton Creque.Louisville’s defense stuffed the Wolfpack offense throughout the first quarter, holding them without a first down. N.C. State’s offense ran 11 plays in the first quarter and accumulated minus-1 total yards.The Cardinals added to the lead with a 74-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Jaylen Smith with 5:21 left in the opening quarter. Up 17-0, Louisville drove down the field again but stalled in the red zone, opting for a 33-yard field goal at the start of the second quarter.Louisville continued to roll in the second quarter, adding a 1-yard touchdown run by Jeremy Smith to take a 27-0 lead. N.C. State didn’t get its initial first down until the 10:02 mark of the second quarter, a 21-yard pass from Finley to Matthew Dayes.After an interception by Cardinals freshman Jonathan Greenard was returned to the N.C. State 32-yard line, Louisville pushed its lead to 34-0 six plays later on a 3-yard pass from Jackson to tight end Cole Hikutini.Another interception, this time by linebacker Stacy Thomas, gave Louisville’s potent offense the ball 11 yards away from the end zone. Jackson found Jamari Staples for a 16-yard touchdown three plays later to take a 41-0 lead.A blocked N.C. State field goal attempt with 1:48 left before the half led to a 24-yard field goal forLouisville to cap the first-half onslaught.The Wolfpack netted a couple of third quarter touchdowns, but the game was so far out of reach by that point that it was inconsequential. N.C. State finally reached the scoreboard with 5:55 left in the third quarter on a 14-yard touchdown from Finley to Kelvin Harmon, a play that was initially ruled an incompletion but was overturned on review.The Wolfpack’s other touchdown was a 70-yard touchdown catch by Maurice Trowell.Smith scored a 1-yard touchdown to cap a 13-play, 69-yard drive in the fourth quarter and the Cardinals added another field goal, a 27-yarder by Creque, to complete the scoring.NOTES: Lamar Jackson’s four first-half touchdowns gave him 34 for the season, 18 passing and 16 rushing. He broke the Louisville single-season record for touchdowns responsible for that was previously held by quarterbacks Dave Ragone and Brian Brohm. … Louisville held N.C. State to just 54 total yards and two first downs in the first half. The Wolfpack averaged just 1.9 yards per play. … Louisville’s defense had three interceptions in the first half, one each by Stacy Thomas, Jonathan Greenard and Trumaine Washington. … Louisville freshman kicker Blanton Creque scored 18 points which consisted of four field goals and six extra points. … Under coach Bobby Petrino, Louisville is 12-0 against North Carolina schools winning by an average score of 38-13.
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